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June 26, 2009

Nazem Kadri


Q. You're a Montreal Canadiens fan but you're wearing the Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey. How is that?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, somehow I knew that question would be brought up. Yeah, I was a diehard fan when I was growing up but today a found a new favorite team.

Q. Do you think you will play in the NHL next season?
NAZEM KADRI: I think I'm capable of doing that. I think it's going to be a big summer ahead of me, and you know, as long as I put the pedal to the metal, next season I should be ready to go.

Q. You look happy, what made you so excited --
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, I think I've grown up and the Leafs is a big hockey club down there. I know a fair bit about them, and it's also two hours from my house, so it makes it a lot easier on my family members and I just can't wait to get it started.

Q. What does this mean to you and your family?
NAZEM KADRI: It means a lot. Like I said they didn't want me going too far away from home obviously because it would be a little tough for them. But it's a special thing for me and my family. I can't wait to get to that training camp.

Q. Did this jersey cross your mind that you might be a Maple Leafs tonight?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, there's a couple options and the Leafs were definitely in there. But finally to have my name called it feels good.

Q. How many times did they interview you?
NAZEM KADRI: A couple of times, and I know they were in contact with my agent, as well. I know we talked to them a fair bit.

Q. Usually it takes the Maple Leafs longer to get through, and you got in right off the bat.
NAZEM KADRI: I don't know, I guess it's a warm welcome in Montréal for a Leafs player. No, you've got to accept the fact, obviously you can't do much about it, but I usually thrive off the booing, so no worries.

Q. What did --
NAZEM KADRI: Congratulations, not much to say, a big relief for me and he congratulated me and really made me feel part of the hockey club.

Q. How big is your family?
NAZEM KADRI: My family is huge. I don't know the exact number, but huge. Huge will have to do.

Q. Immediate?
NAZEM KADRI: Not immediate. I probably have about 40 some odd in my immediate and outside of that, I may have relatives I don't even know.

Q. You said you had 80 people come down with you. What's their reaction?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, they were loving it. Obviously the Leafs, it's a great organization and it's well known in Canada, so they are happy for me.

Q. How about the pressure and spotlight of playing there? Everything you do will be under a microscope.
NAZEM KADRI: I understand that and London was probably a good lesson for me. I think London is a smaller scale of the media and publicity you get in Toronto.
It helped me out for sure and obviously I know you're going to be under the microscope a little more, but I guess you're just going to have to watch your step.

Q. How did that prepare you for the next step?
NAZEM KADRI: They are great coaches, spoke really highly of me, unbelievable. They have obviously taught some great young hockey talent and developed some great players. They have both played in the pros, so they really taught me what to do and how to get there and how to kind of carry myself as a pro hockey player.

Q. Did you play for Pete DeBord (ph) as well?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, he's obviously a great coach, too. I've been fortunate to go through some amazing coaches in my junior career, but Pete a little different style than Dale but I think I adapted well under both.

Q. About your father, do you think that he will become a Maple Leafs fan now?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, without a doubt, I think he's going to be one of those people to buy season tickets at the Leafs game. It's going to be real nice for them.

Q. Who was drafted first, he was an old teammate?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, he was a friend of mine this year and we were roommates on the road and I got to know him pretty well and he's a great guy and I'm happy for him.

Q. Inaudible.
NAZEM KADRI: Hopefully when I get some experience under my belt, I'll become one of those impact players. I think I can be. I'll just bring everything to the table, everything that I possibly can and hopefully I can be fortunate to win a Stanley Cup with the Leafs.

Q. When did you feel this was a reality?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, obviously breaking my jaw happened at an extremely bad time. But every player I think has to battle through some adversity in their hockey career, and I think that was mine. I think I bounced back real well from it.
I remember in the beginning of the year saying, my God, it's my draft year and I have to perform, and with the blink of an eye here I am on draft day wearing a Leafs uniform. It's special for me.

Q. How did you break your jaw?
NAZEM KADRI: It was actually on impact. I lined up on a hit and unfortunately the player was a little smaller than me and his helmet collided with my face. It broke in two spots but it's a hundred percent right now.

Q. When was that?
NAZEM KADRI: It was early on in the year, about 20 games in.

Q. Who were you playing against?
NAZEM KADRI: The Colts. It was actually Alex Hutchings that did break my jaw, but I think he'll be drafted a little later tomorrow.

Q. Your family's heritage is what?
NAZEM KADRI: I'm Lebanese, Lebanese Canadian.

Q. Not many Lebanese hobby players?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, actually I don't think there's any playing the NHL right now. But it's nice for my community to kind of be recognized as a pro hockey player hopefully but I think a lot of stereotype are made that Lebanese, they don't set foot on ice but here I am. It's definitely nice.

Q. When did your family leave?
NAZEM KADRI: My mom was actually born here and my father moved when he was three, so he's been in Canada most of his life.

Q. When we talked earlier, you said you wanted to be a role model for young Lebanese kids playing hockey, do you think being drafted by Toronto at the level you are, do you think that's going to help?
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, I think absolutely. It's nice to be a role model for those young kids and it's nice to have them look up to you. You know, I think definitely me playing with the Leafs and being in this organization will help that out.

Q. Was that ever a tough thing for you growing up playing hockey, having that name that was --
NAZEM KADRI: No, I don't think so. I don't think I noticed that too much.
You know, I think most of my teammates or all of my teammates treated me pretty equal, and you know, I have a lot of good friends of mine. I don't think the name was ever an issue, but so yeah, I didn't really focus on that too much.

Q. You're Muslim, as well?

Q. Inaudible.
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, that was back in high school, that was the MSA. It was a little club for kind of the Muslims in our school, so I thought it would be fun to kind of be a part of it.

Q. There are not many Muslims in hockey -- do you see this as a role for yourself and an athlete --
NAZEM KADRI: Yeah, I do, like I was saying before, being a role model is an important thing for me. When kids look up to you, it makes you feel a lot better in yourself, and hopefully these kids can look at me and kind of use me as a role model.

End of FastScripts

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