TORONTO - You won’t hear Nazem Kadri complaining about the so-called “tough love” he has been getting from Leafs coach Ron Wilson throughout his rookie season.
In fact, the former first-round pick said on Wednesday that he’s determined to do whatever it will take to be a front-line player in the league for a long time.
“I want to be an impact player,” Kadri said Wednesday before hopping the team charter to Boston for the Leafs-Bruins game on Thursday. “Next year I’m not going to be dipping my toes in the water to get started. I’m going to be diving right in so I see that as positive.”
Though he is still prone to defensive mistakes, Kadri has looked vastly more comfortable in his most recent callup in which he has registered five points in his past five games.
“I think (earlier in the season) he was focussed on offence and standing around and little dinky plays that don’t work in the NHL,” Wilson said. “He had to learn through a little bit of failure, but that’s the same with everyone up here.
“This isn’t a democracy where the players decide how they play. We’ve got to fit everybody into a team system. You can’t make mistakes in our league and just slough them off.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Seems as though rookie Leafs goaltender James Reimer has bought into the Optimus Reim nickname fans have taken to calling him recently.
Reimer has had a Transformers logo painted on his mask to embrace the idea.
“I just decided to go with it, it sounds pretty cool,” Reimer said on Wednesday. “I’ve never really had a nickname other than ‘Reims’ or ‘Reimsy’ so it’s been pretty cool.”
Wilson says he isn’t paying any attention to mild speculation that he will be offered a contract extension in the off-season. About to complete his third campaign with the club, Wilson has one more year remaining on his current deal. “I’ve got a contract for next year and beyond that, it doesn’t bother me.” ... Maple Leafs prospect Matt Frattin has been named as one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as U.S. college hockey’s top player. A star at North Dakota, Frattin scored 36 times for the Fighting Sioux, who have qualified for the Final Four. The other two finalists are Miami University’s Andy Miele and Cam Atkinson of Boston College.