Flames head coach Ryan Huska praised Nazem Kadri’s game on the ice and his leadership abilities off the ice

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
4 months ago
For Calgary Flames fans who have been intently watching this team since the acquisitions of Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar and the signing of Nazem Kadri, it’s evident that all three of those players have vastly improved over their time with the team.
Not only has their on-ice play improved, but they’ve taken a big leadership role with young players continuing to be introduced to the lineup.
Kadri especially has taken this role to heart. Not only is he considered a veteran leader on this team, but he was a veteran leader on the Colorado Avalanche team that won the Stanley Cup in the 2021-22 season, so he is familiar with this position and understands how important it is for young players in any organization to feel welcomed and receive help as they’re trying to adjust to life in the NHL, which includes tons of hard work and discipline.
Following the club’s win over Boston on Thursday night, Flames head coach Ryan Huska spoke with the media about how much pride Kadri takes in the role of lifting up the young players that he plays with and others throughout the lineup.
“He does [take pride in the role]. There’s no doubt about it,” Huska said. “I think he has used the word ‘coaching’ at times, and I think he feels like he has a big responsibility now. When you look at his year, he has been consistently one of our best players for sure. He would be right up there for us with the way he has approached this season for us, and it’s really great to see him working to bring people along because that’s what leadership is all about.”
Not only has Kadri been a fantastic leader in the locker room, but he is part of an overarching group of leaders who have been fantastic in leading the charge on the ice as consistently as possible, even during the times of the season when the team hasn’t been consistent for one reason or another.
“I think it just cements some of the belief they have in each other,” Huska said. “To me, this is the way I’ve seen this group all year. We’ve got to work on those ups and downs and smoothing that out, but our leadership group is really good right now, and they push, and they will continue to push until we get to where we want to be.”
Looking back to Kadri as an individual, having signed a seven-year contract with an average annual value of $7 million, he was expected to do great things on the ice in terms of performance, and with Connor Zary and Martin Pospisil (or whoever else can fill that spot if Pospisil is unavailable), he has looked as good as one could possibly want him to look. He has scored seven points in his last five games and 51 points in 58 games played, five away from his total last season.
With the departure of Elias Lindholm, the Flames’ first center, from the ranks, it’s possible that Kadri has felt even more of a responsibility to step up and perform. However, Huska insists that it’s something that has been in Kadri’s game since the beginning of the season.
“From the start of the year, I feel like he was that way,” Huska said. “Maybe now he’s taking on a few more minutes than he was before, but I feel like he’s been consistent from the beginning of the year.”
Without Kadri, this Flames team is in a very different spot both in the standings and regarding the maturation of their young players, particularly Zary. So, not only is it good that he is being recognized for his leadership capabilities, but it’s even better that he’s being rewarded for his play on the ice as well. He coined the phrase of calling this Flames team a “pack of Hyenas” and talking about a “pack mentality” that requires everyone to buy in and grind out wins, and the team is living up to that mantra at this point in the season.
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