Why did Darren Dreger say mean things about Nazem Kadri on the radio?

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Darren Dreger, who is Dave Nonis’ cousin, went on TSN Radio 1050 today in Toronto to say a lot of silly things about Nazem Kadri. I’m not sure why Dreger did these things, but with the contract negotiations between the Leafs and Kadri going public as Kadri is still without a deal and in his first year as a restricted free agent, it seems that Dreger is using his medium to turn public sentiment against Kadri in the dispute.

He also said a lot of wrong things, and was heavy on historical revisionism.

Here’s the link to the segment, and below is a transcript. I have some thoughts breaking up Dreger’s spiel periodically.

A deal will likely be reached a day before, or two, just before training camp, that’s the sense that I get. But, hey, full marks to Nazem Kadri, you know, I watched the interview that Mark Masters of TSN conducted with him yesterday I believe, and man, this guy is not afraid of talking. If it were me, and I’d played fewer than 100 NHL games, I think I’d be letting my agent do his work and I’d be saying as little as possible outside I’d what I’d been doing from a hockey perspective.

And you know, I think that we should focus on that a little bit. You know a year ago, Dallas Eakins was absolutely hammering him because of he didn’t feel that he wasn’t conditioned well-enough, his eating habits were poor and all of those things. I think a lot has changed over the course of this year and uh, I’m told that he’s been in the gym on a daily basis, he’s been working hard, he’s been skating and he’s matured, he’s preparing himself for the season that he knows he has to have.

Let me stop you right there, Darren. I went back to check and see what Dallas Eakins’ exact comments were, and while he DID call Kadri’s fitness levels “unacceptable”, Eakins also opened up the possibility that there was something wrong with the tests. They might suck, Eakins said, We might not get the data that we want and we’ll have to tweak ’em.

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Perhaps the tests were tweaked. Kadri crushed it at the AHL-level this season, and he opened up the season setting up Keith Aucoin and Carter Ashton for scoring chance after scoring chance.

Besides, if there’s an issue about Kadri’s health, perhaps the Leafs organization shouldn’t have let him play with a concussion back in December? Hmm…

Okay, back to Dregs:

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But that also goes hand-in-hand with it, doesn’t it, with the contract? And, uh, at the end of the day it seems high [inaudible] that Kadri is going to have to accept the bridge deal of two years of just under $3-million and if that’s not good enough for him, guess what? He won’t be in training camp and he won’t be playing in the preseason, and he won’t be starting the regular season with the Toronto Maple Leafs he’ll be watching this (us?) on TV.

Obviously, Dreger isn’t saying “us” there, though it sounds an awful lot like it, like he’s reading an email from Cousin David. Dreger stumbles a lot and says “uh” a lot through this interview, but he was on a roll between talking about accepting the bridge deal and watching the Maple Leafs on TV.

If Kadri is watching TV to start the season, he may not choose to watch a team whose top two centres are Tyler Bozak and David Bolland.

I think then you have to look around the organization and see who is clawing for a full-time role. And there are players that have paid their dues who are looking for that opportunity. Joe Colborne’s name comes to mind. We seem to talk about Joe on an annual basis and wonder if he’s going to make it and maybe this is his year. You know, for a player who is not that far removed from the American Hockey League, you know, missing training camp, if that’s what happens, again, I think it’s unlikely, I believe he will get his deal done before that, but if he decides that the contract the Toronto Maple Leafs are firm on and he sits, then not only does that hurt you from a professional standpoint, I think that your reputation also takes a bit of a knock. 

Musical interlude:

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So there’s a pretty big difference here fellas, you know, between P.K. Subban’s situation and what Nazem Kadri is dealing with. I think that there was a higher level of appreciation for the player that I think we knew P.K. Subban was going into the lockout and coming out of the lockout last year, and I think that the hockey world, most NHL general managers are still wondering what type of player Nazem Kadri’s going to be. And if that’s the case, if we believe that’s going to be the case, he’s not doing himself any favours by missing one minute of playing time.

And this statement is purely B.S. and I think Dreger knows it, and I’m disappointed that the host didn’t call him on it. Habs Eyes on the Prize had a collection of arguments used against Pernell Karl during his holdout, and they do match Kadri’s quite a bit:

  • Subban should just accept a two year deal.
  • Subban is still young, so he doesn’t deserve a long term deal.
  • Subban thinks he’s bigger than the team.
  • Subban has potential, but he isn’t great yet.
  • Subban isn’t worth more than $3M a year right now.
  • Subban is a problem in the dressing room.

There’s a reflex in the hockey community to think players “earn” contracts, when rather, players should be earning the money that they’re playing for now. If you have four good years, but are turning 30, you aren’t owed a good contract for four years. A general manager has to bet that you’ll out-perform the next contract you’re given. The knocks on Subban were hilarious because you could tell for two seasons that he was going to be an elite hockey player, and he’s become the best value buy in hockey for at least next season.

The difference between Subban and Kadri is that while all of Subban’s numbers pointed in the right direction, there are indicators that Kadri’s scoring will fall off meaning he’s not worth what you may think based on his production last season, but he was a play-driving centreman in his limited time prior to this season.

Things the Real David Nonis said

Here are a couple of comments made by Dave Nonis on the Fan 590 today. These were transcribed by @Hope_Smoke, who is an excellent follow on Twitter, by the way:

Well, at least Dreger didn’t criticize Nonis for talking in the media about the negotiations as well. Here he is about why Nonis didn’t hold out on Jonathan Bernier:

That brings us to another question: Why didn’t you go to arbitration with the goaltender with 54 starts in five seasons in the league? Nonis was not at all stingy when dealing with his other free agents, and none of them were as important to the Leafs as Kadri. 

I didn’t want to get into the media discussion, but the Leafs have officially replied to Kadri through the media. At least we still have something to discuss before hockey starts for real. For the record, I think Kadri has got some pretty poor advice through this, but I’d be frustrated too if during a quiet process, all of a sudden the Leafs leak out that I’d asked for more than I was worth.

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  • Vancityleaffan

    What really worries me is that it seems like any deal to Franson is going to be done after they figure out a contract with Kadri. The prospect of heading into this season without these two players, makes me feel a bit ill.

    Over the next week, I’m going to close my eyes, plug my ears, cross my fingers and hope it’s solved by the start of camp.


  • Vancityleaffan

    I agree that it appears Leafs managment is using the media as their puppets. Inventing fake offers from Kadri and feeding it to the media?? This is a total bush-league move! I thought that Nonis would have been above this. Burke would have been for sure.

    But, in fairness to Dregs, I don’t think he said anything overly anti-Kadri in the interview. He’s right that the Leafs bridge offer of

  • Vancityleaffan

    …under 3M x 2 is pretty fair… and he’s also right that the Subban comparison isn’t appropriate since PK was a more established player at the time than Kadri is now.

  • Vancityleaffan

    I wonder if Mr. Burke would be interested in Liles for Calgary? Burke did that contract.

    The Leafs could keep some salary (1-1.5 million annually) and it would solve many problems.