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Examining what Nazem Kadri went through in last 48 hours

There’s so many different ways to describe what just happened dependent on who you ask.

Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues Game Four NHL Playoffs Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

T/W; Racism/Islamophobia: Some of the following themes discussed can be distressing to some. Read and proceed with caution. Before I go any further, please know that racism is never acceptable in the hockey community, let alone in life. We at Mile High Hockey stand in support of Nazem Kadri and stand up against racism and those who support such motives.

Nazem Kadri has been at the forefront of pressure. Playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs will do this to you. As a POC in a majority-white league, Kadri has always had to deal with racially-motivated attacks online under a strict microscope in Toronto.

After hitting Torey Krug on the Boston Bruins, it would be the final action he had in the famous Maple Leaf sweater back during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It left Toronto fans with a sour taste in their mouth and turn to hatred, some racially motivated. He turned the page to a new chapter, joining the Colorado Avalanche via a trade.

He has had some ups and downs in the Mile High City in the last three years. The racism never left, and unfortunately, never will for people who look like Kadri. Having a spotlight on him on a daily basis, Kadri’s job never gets any easier. There were significant comments made after his eight-game suspension in last year’s playoffs against the Blues after hitting Brayden Schenn.

May 21 to May 23: A topsy-turvy few days

Against the same St. Louis Blues, the controversy continued and overflowed. In Game 3 Saturday night, he was caught up in a battle with Calle Rosen going head-on towards Jordan Binnington. The three collided, forcing the netminder to leave the game and later be out for the rest of the series.

The reactions afterward are disgusting to read and hear about. Head coach Craig Berube simply said “look at his reputation,” and Naz received a heinous amount of hate online. In-person, he was faced with an errant water bottle throw from the injured Binnington post-game during a TNT interview after the 5-2 win.

The day after the game, the hate only got worse. Keyboard warriors behind screens, newly made Twitter accounts with no name, profile picture, and a few tweets were all slandering the Lebanese-born Canadian. Berube added fuel to the fire by simply saying “no comment” on the attacks Kadri faced. These slanderous threats eventually got the police department involved in the situation, propelling things out of control, and exploding things to be a lot bigger than sports in the moment. Kadri’s wife shared some horrifying screenshots late last night of what they have had to endure not just as an athlete but as a family.

Game 4 was looking to be a train going off the rails and it would only be a matter of time before tempers inevitably boiled over. It started immediately with Blues fans raining down boos whenever Kadri touched the puck. Things eventually became more tempered once Kadri scored on a 2-on-1.

Between this, things got really violent, real quickly. After getting hit behind the net, he was jumped by David Perron and Pavel Buchnevich along the benches. Naz did nothing wrong in the moment and simply was passing by on a change. He took several big hits, crosschecks, and punches which earned his team a 5-on-3. He would then go on to score the game-winning goal right after the two-man advantage expired to make it 4-1.

The night ended brilliantly for Naz, who tacked his third goal of the game to complete his hat-trick under the blocker of Ville Husso. His historic hat-trick heroics has heaved the Blues to the brink, with the possibility of booking tee times at the golf course later this week. It’s just the second playoff hat-trick in Avalanche history since 1997, fifth all-time, per Hockey Reference.

The postgame reactions both from Kadri and his teammates were outstanding to see. His postgame interview on TNT - without a water bottle thrown at him this time - was one to remember for the ages. These are just a handful of reactions to Naz’s comeback and resilience, ending the last 48 hours at least on a higher note than before.

Where do we go from here? How do we combat the horrid threats of racism, violence, and death threats? How do we do this, let alone for an athlete of color in a predominantly white sport who has been dealing with this since he started playing hockey and has to live in the spotlight thanks to his position?

As a fan and observer from the outside looking in, there’s not much many of us can personally do. There’s been plenty of support online from Avalanche fans. There will be plenty of new signs that’ll be up on Wednesday night Game 5 elimination game standing in support of Kadri. If you’re going to the game, consider showing your support.

As a community, we should put politics and beliefs aside. Simply put, stand with Kadri. No matter what you think of him as a person, it's been a trying time away from home as of late. He deserves it and needs the support from us through the rest of the playoffs. Hopefully, he will feel it back on home ice.

Outside of that, there’s some financial support that can be made to combat heinous acts that Kadri has faced through the Kadri foundation. They’ve been gracious about it already and will continue to fight against these terrible acts.

As for Kadri and the Avalanche community, he may not be re-signed after his career year this year. We have to take every chance we get with him on ice and praise him for the few games he probably has left in an Avs uniform. He’s already a legend because of what he’s gone through in the last 48 hours. His legend will grow in Denver even more if and when he raises Lord Stanley this summer through all the hardships and controversy.