At the top, this isn’t some kudos party for how Nazem Kadri reacted to the racist threats he received from Blues fans after Game 3. This is just about his response on the ice, and we’ll get to some deadbrained hockey reaction to the more serious stuff in a second.
Kadri was certainly a target of the Blues in Game 4 on Monday night, though his collision with Jordan Binnington in Game 3 certainly looked like an accident, no matter what Blues coach Craig Berube has to say about it (and Berube should probably be careful about talking about anyone’s reputation if he can help it). Kadri has lost his rag in the playoffs before, and cost his teams dearly, and surely part of Berube’s ploy was to set the stage for another meltdown that could shift the series in the Blues’ favor.
Instead, the Blues mostly got their ass kicked into seven different kinds of shit most of the night (shots 37-20 Avs, 4.1-2.0 in expected goals as well), and it was the Blues who brought back their annual spring tradition of not only losing a critical playoff game but also losing their head somewhere in their colon. The Blues seemed to have consigned their annual playoff self-immolation to the dustbin in 2019 when they won the whole thing, so it was heartening to watch it happen again and know that some things can never truly die. It used to be every April you could set your watch to one or a group of Blues players trying to settle scores in their own heads — instead of the big one hanging over center ice — parade to the box, and watch more talented and certainly more level-headed teams traipse on by them to the next round.
So step up, David Perron to play some long lost hits:
For a decade and a half now, there’s never been a tougher player than Perron when you’re not looking at him and/or there’s a linesman or two between him and whatever player he wants to cheapshot. Kadri made the mistake here of being on his knees and facing away from Perron. Of course, this meant a two-minute long 5-on-3 advantage for the Avalanche, allowing Kadri to deposit his second of the night and the fourth for the Avs while Perron and Pavel Buchnevich were scrambling back into the play after serving their penalties. It won’t go down as a power-play goal, but certainly resulted from one.
Kadri would add his hat-trick goal in the 3rd, essentially ending the game as a contest in the eventual 6-3 Avs win. Instead of inspiring Kadri to go off the rails, Berube and the Blues inspired him to put their season halfway into the grave, down 3-1 in the series and heading back to Denver as they are.
There perhaps won’t be a more satisfying sight this spring in the NHL than Kadri scoring as a result of Perron trying to behead him from behind, watching Perron whiff on an even cheaper shot as he tried to elbow Kadri in the head after he scored, and then Kadri letting the entire Enterprise Arena know just where they could go and what they could do.
And this is where the overarching issues come into play. Kadri was staring down and stuffing it down the throat of the fans who had said god-knows-what to him and threatened him to the point the police had to get involved after Game 3. Somewhere, in that sea of middle fingers, was at least one culprit and probably more. There isn’t much better than watching some morons with sewer runoff for brains get theirs.
Of course, that wasn’t enough for Ran MacLean, somehow still the voice of hockey in Canada even after 218 years on the job and being on the wrong side of enough already. The next interesting thing MacLean has to say will be the first. For example…
MacLean is more worried about the reaction of a group that has been racist and threatening than what Kadri has been through, nor the Blues actions of only inciting their knuckle-dragging fans by trying to exact some sort of revenge for nothing. To MacLean, it’s still Kadri’s fault.
It’s still startling how hockey chooses its heroes and villains. Kadri has certainly earned a fair share of ire for his on-ice actions, and deservedly so, and I’ve called him to the mat for them as much as anyone else. But here, in this series, he’d done nothing except get knocked into a goalie, and yet a national studio host wants to put him on blast for staring down the idiocy.
This game one night after the ESPN studio crew couldn’t stop gushing over Evander Kane’s hat trick, even though Kane is a known piece of shit off the ice. Of course, it was labeled with the customary “baggage” from analysts who don’t have the capacity to deal with all the things Kane has done and is accused of. And Kane still hasn’t taken responsibility for any of it, mostly because the hockey world will always forgive you if you can score.
Kadri has never been accused or done anything like that away from the rink, and yet look who gets let off easy because he scored some goals instead of was part of a normal collision on the ice or decided he wasn’t going to take racism lying down. Couldn’t really be a clearer illustration of how far hockey has to go.
But for one night, no matter who was commenting, Kadri rose above it all and put his foot down the sludge-ridden gullets of some real jackasses. You take your wins where you can.