Training camp for the Toronto Marlies opened on Thursday, September 27 and as per Maple Leafs tradition, everything was heavily scrutinized.
Ah, Toronto—where good isn't good enough, average is terrible and bad is disastrous.
Top prospect Nazem Kadri, as you probably know, trained with fitness guru Gary Roberts over the summer.
Gary Roberts does not accept students who aren't completely dedicated to his teachings, and yet, all of a sudden, everyone (read: the media) is chattering about how Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins called Kadri out for his high body fat.
"No Benefit for Marlies to Label Nazem Kadri Fat and Slow," reads the headline of an article by Michael Traikos of the National Post.
If I remember correctly, Coach Eakins did not call (or "label") Kadri either of those things.
Check out the video of the media scrum from the Mastercard Centre (via MapleLeafs.com) to verify this for yourself.
From Traikos' National Post article:
On Friday, Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins told reporters that “Kadri’s body fat today is probably in the bottom-three to five guys in our whole camp and that’s unacceptable.” He also said that Kadri’s skating tests were “average.”
Traikos goes on to ask: "Why make this public? Why not tell Kadri that he needs get in better shape and become faster. Why embarrass him?"
Apparently, his comments to the media created so much controversy that Eakins felt the need to address the issue via Twitter:
FYI..Twitter world. I was asked a DIRECT question about Naz. I answered it honestly. I also stated that he was only half way done his tests
— Dallas Eakins (@dallaseakins) September 28, 2012
You can interpret that tweet however you like, but to me, it looks like he's telling everyone to calm the *bleep* down and to not read too much into his statements.
An article on the subject by Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star begins with this:
If Nazem Kadri is serious about a career in hockey, he’d better get serious about his diet. So says Dallas Eakins, head coach of the Toronto Marlies, who left the Maple Leafs' first-round pick and the rest of his charges gasping for air after a litany of fitness tests on Friday.
Well that escalated quickly.
The implication there is that Kadri isn't serious about a career in hockey.
Of course, Eakins made no such accusation, nor did he even imply that Kadri wasn't serious about performing well at camp.
Jonas Siegel of TSN writes that "Kadri kicked off his third season in the American Hockey League with underwhelming results" and that "[Kadri's] results were an obvious misfire".
"Underwhelming"? "Obvious misfire"?
Here, it is implied that Kadri wasn't and isn't trying hard enough. That expectations for him were way higher. That fans should be disappointed.
I don't speak for anybody except myself, but I'm pretty sure Leaf fans care a lot more about on-ice results than they do about who puked after the Wingate or who weighed this or that much coming into camp.
Howard Berger had this to say about all this brouhaha:
While worrying about "percentage of body-fat", no one acknowledges that Nazem Kadri has a top-three skill-set in #Leafs entire organization.
— Howard Berger (@Berger_BYTES) September 28, 2012
Berger would later clarify that he was only talking about Leaf forwards.
Former Leaf Jeff O'Neill echoed those sentiments with the following blunt assessment:
Nazem Kadri should get ripped so he can't make a ten foot pass like everyone else.
— Jeff ONeill (@odognine2) September 28, 2012
Expectations are high for every Leaf player, but they are excessively high for Kadri.
The Leafs should let him play and let the results speak for themselves.
The media needs to calm the *bleep* down and remember to try to keep to the facts.