Don't ever let it be said that the hockey coverage in Toronto is not oppressive. Whether it has an impact on players is in doubt (the media usually says no when it's bad but yes when there's a good connotation) but it is pervasive and covers the gamut from the inane to the insane. You'll only notice that big stories, like say a goalie coach being exiled mid-season, don't get broken until at least one of the principals has left town. But David Blye puts it best:
It wouldn't be September without a few sensationalized Leaf stories on Friday (note: the month and day of the week are interchangeable)— David Blye (@DBlye) September 28, 2012
What started today's instance of #TomorrowsLeafsNews being more ridiculous that our wildest imaginations? Three tweets from friend of the blog Jonas Siegel
Kadri didn't exact blow away the competition in on-ice testing. D'Amigo and Deschamps far stronger in the final test.— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) September 28, 2012
Not a great start for Kadri. Eakins says body fat registers among bottom 3-5 in camp. Skating tests "average".— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) September 28, 2012
Eakins on Kadri: "His body fat today is probably in the bottom three to five guys in our whole camp and that’s unacceptable."— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) September 28, 2012
The instant reaction went from hilarious Simpsons quotes to wondering how fitness superguru Gary Roberts could have failed to turn Nazem Kadri into the fittest player in the NHL. Cam Charron had a good look at yesterday's media day interview which sheds some light on the process that Dallas Eakins is using to measure his players. What I wonder is whether Kadri improved over last year's testing results or whether the rest of the team's results are good relative to an AHL average. Regardless, it is strange that the Leafs constantly feel the need to go public with criticism of Kadri. I don't think it's wrong to ever go public and that each player must be handled exactly the same but Greg Brady had two tweets that sum up how I feel
Love to know what's to be gained by Dallas Eakins ripping Nazem Kadri's conditioning as being "unacceptable" to the media. On Day 1 of camp?— Greg Brady (@bradyfan590) September 28, 2012
Is there a single Leaf fan who doesn't want to see: Kadri play 40 games straight, in all situations possible, THEN decide if he should stay?— Greg Brady (@bradyfan590) September 28, 2012
Jesse Spector also makes some cogent points
Toronto grousing about Nazem Kadri, one of the true signs that it’s hockey season.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) September 28, 2012
Can’t wait until Kadri gets traded for nothing, because his own organization has killed his value, then is awesome somewhere else.— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) September 28, 2012
This is not to suggest that Nazem Kadri should be immune to criticism. The team has given him things to work on in the AHL and during the summers and even by Eakins' own admissions he has usually done them. He was asked to work on his defensive game and he did. He was asked to work on his fitness whether adding weight or his general level of fitness and he has worked diligently on their suggestions. Whether the results are what they expected is another question but let's at least see how he fares during games.
When Kadri has played in the NHL he has shown that he is close to being good enough for a regular role in the big league. Eventually, when hockey returns, the Leafs are going to have to give him an extended shot to see whether it is time to cut bait with Kadri whether they feel that he has earned it or not. Fitness is obviously an important issue as Eakins has been banging that drum for a year but at some point being a good hockey player is more important.
What Spector is touching on is something that will be familiar to fans of the Blue Jays. A highly prized and touted prospect has been publicly criticized to an extent beyond anyone else in the organization, held down a level while moving older prospects and outside signings past him on the depth chart, and led a merry path in place of a focused development program. In the future I might be able to use Tao of Stieb's post on the revelations surrounding Snider's departure as a template:
For others, retracing the steps that led to his exit seems to be more misery than a stressed-out, heartbroken Jays fan can take at this point and yet the curiosity around what really happened to the Jays' former No. 1 prospect is almost impossible to resist. For those of us who have spent the last five years agonizing over Snider, his progress - or lack thereof - the feature has been a source of frustration and bewilderment. Getting a bit more dirt on what many of us have suspected was a strained relationship at the best of times has been irresistible.
But we shouldn't mistake the story as merely a salacious rehash.
What happened with Travis Snider matters going forward because many of the key figures involved - Alex Anthopoulos, John Farrell and Paul Beeston - are still actively setting the course for the future of the franchise.
Their approach to Snider's development should be scrutinized, as should their self-evaluation for how they handled him. The story paints a picture of a development plan that was improvised at best, careless at worst. But for the most part, the Jays brain trust remains mostly unapologetic about their handling of Snider.
With regard to his relationship with the team, players have overcome worse than constant reminders in the press from management that they should get in better shape. The team is free to approach their motivational efforts in the manner that they see fit but it certainly feels like despite Kadri's best efforts they are hard to please. Of course, it's hard to measure how hard Kadri has worked without having followed him all summer. At the end of the day, the proof will be on the ice so let's wait until games are played to see whether his game fitness has improved.
Dallas Eakins Speaks To The Media
Nazem Kadri Speaks To The Media