Chubby fatso Nazem Kadri.
Yet another unfortunate side effect of the NHL lockout: With "Hockey Night in Canada" about to be replaced by a "Big Bang Theory" buffet, Don Cherry doesn't have his usual platform to rail against the chronic mistreatment of Nazem Kadri.
Kadri came under fire late last week for showing up to Toronto Marlies' training camp in less than impeccable shape. "His body fat today is probably in the bottom three to five guys in our whole camp and that's unacceptable," said Dallas Eakins when asked.
It was remarkable for two reasons. First, Kadri spent the summer training with fitness guru and noted quinoa enthusiast Gary Roberts and somehow came away doughier. How did that happen? Second, well, of course the Leafs' top prospect would show up out of weight -- God does not love this team.
But Don Cherry loves Nazem Kadri, and watching Leafs Nation disparage the kid with "magic hands" for being a chumbo was too much for him. Unable to mash his piano desk at "Hockey Night in Canada," he took to mashing his keyboard on Twitter (and then Kathy Broderick retyped it):
If anyone wants to get a blue print on how to destroy someone, just follow the Toronto Maple Leafs. I have never in my life seen a kid treated like Nazem Kadri by the Leafs. It started in his first training camp where he led the team in scoring but was blasted for his defensive faults. They don't blast Kulemin who scored 7 goals. They give him 5 million dollars. Now the Marlie coach comes out and rips Kadri in the newspaper saying he doesn't eat properly. Imagine headlines saying he's chubby and fatso.
Cherry has a point. Kadri has been under intense scrutiny since the moment he was drafted, and it was in no way helpful for Eakins to go public with his fitness issues, especially when there is practically nothing else going on in hockey to prevent this from becoming a major talking point.
Eakins defended himself for throwing Kadri under the bus, saying he was just answering a direct question. And as Cam Charron notes, his full quote wasn't quite as damning as the media made it out to be. Eakins also mentioned Kadri hadn't finished fitness testing yet, and that he had improved on the ice.
But the chunky seed has now been planted and, as Kyle Wellwood found out, it's difficult to shake a reputation as a fat-fat-fatty-fat once you get it. In January 2011, a 180-pound Wellwood tried to kill the "Kyle Wellwood is so fat" meme by clarifying that he's not fat, he's just weak. From Working the Corners:
"That was something I fixed and now I've been in great shape," Wellwood continued. "I've been under 180 pounds so it's kind of a running joke — you still get the fat jokes when you're one of the lightest people in hockey. You just laugh and shake your head."
But hockey fans weren't buying it, because they had an unflattering 3-year-old poolside photo of him that begged to differ.
Maybe this is why Kadri didn't even bother trying to throw water on the story. From the National Post:
"I'm still a young guy," he concluded. "I'm slowly learning how to be a pro and what types of food to put into my body, but it's not like you're all going to get it in a couple months, you're going to start to figure it out, you'll gradually get the hang of it as you go."
One could argue that if you're self-aware enough for a statement like that, you're self-aware enough to put a little more effort into your diet.
Maybe he will eventually. But even if Kadri corrects the issue, until he emerges as an NHL star — if he ever does, and much of the reaction to this is borne out of fear that he won't — he won't be able to shake his new reputation as Chunk from the Goonies.
In the end, this is proof that nothing, not even an NHL lockout, can prevent Toronto from building a controversy around Nazem Kadri. And wherever there is injustice against Nazem Kadri, you will find Don Cherry.