Nazem Kadri celebrates Stanley Cup with Muslim community

The Colorado Avalanche star got to bring the Cup back home to where he grew up, London, Ontario
When the Avalanche won this year's Stanley Cup, Nazem Kadri reached a major milestone. (Photo 191816812 © Peter Kováč |

One of the greatest traditions in the NHL happens after the Stanley Cup is won.

Each player on the winning team gets the opportunity to spend a day with the famous trophy. Most players choose to bring the Cup back to their hometown. And the Colorado Avalanche's star centre Nazem Kadri was no exception. But his day with the Cup, which happened this past Saturday, August 27, was a little different.

In addition to being a great, feisty hockey player, Kadri is Muslim. His grandparents moved to Canada from Lebanon when his father, Samir, was just four years old. Nazem was born in London, Ontario.

Muslim players are still quite rare in the NHL. In fact, Kadri is the first Muslim player to win the Stanley Cup!

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Kadri celebrates with his family after winning the Cup. (Getty Embed)

So to give back to the community that made him who he is today, he began his parade through the city at the London Muslim Mosque.

Here's the moment when he brought the Cup out for all to see!

Woohoo! So amazing for him and the Muslim community. Hundreds of people traveled from across the city and beyond to pay tribute to a player who has helped them believe that anything is possible for young Muslim athletes.

From young star to challenging times

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Nazem Kadri was a valued player for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but was traded after ten years in the organization. (Getty Embed)

Today, Kadri is recognized as one of the top centres in the game. Certainly the Calgary Flames are excited about what he has to offer: he just signed a brand new seven year, $49 million contract with the team!

But his story is one of a lot of up and downs. He was a star on his hometown OHL team, the London Knights. Then he was drafted seventh overall by one of the NHL teams down the highway: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As a Leaf, he built a reputation for a style that was relentless, skilled, and very difficult to play against. Unfortunately, his play also became known for suspensions. Eventually, the Leafs decided to move on from Kadri and traded him to Colorado in 2019.

Finally, the hero!

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Kadri flicks in the game-winning overtime goal versus Tampa Bay in the Game 4 of the Cup final. (Getty Embed)

It took a while for Kadri to adjust—he has admitted in interviews that the trade hurt because he loved playing in Toronto.

But it also gave him something to prove. That he could be a champion!

Last year, he put together the best regular season of his career, with 28 goals and 59 assists. In the playoffs, he was a vital part of the team's winning ways, even scoring a hat trick against the St. Louis Blues in the second round to seal an important victory. Then, in the next round versus Edmonton, he was injured and looked like he was done for the playoffs.

But he surprised everyone by coming back in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not only did he return, he scored the overtime winner for Colorado, willing them toward an impressive championship.

Kadri had finally found a way to turn in the type of heroic performance he always believed he could deliver.

And a hero in many ways

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Avalanche fans show their support for Kadri after he was the target of racist attacks online. (Getty Embed)

But the truth is, he was a hero long before that.

Kadri's Muslim faith and Lebanese ancestry has made him a target of racist abuse across his entire playing career. This includes during the recent playoffs, where a collision with Blues goalie Jordan Binnington set off a wave of racist abuse of Kadri by fans online. (His response was that hat trick in the very next game!)

But Kadri has done more to fight racism that just score goals. Along with players like Akim Aliu, Anthony Duclair, and Matt Dumba, he joined the Hockey Diversity Alliance. The HDA was founded in June 2020 to "eradicate systemic racism and intolerance in hockey."

The HDA works with all sorts of hockey programs to educate people on how to recognize racism, and how to build and respect diversity in the game. In an HDA video this past January, he shared racist messages that he had received over his career to show that discrimination wasn't a thing of the past. It was something that hockey needs to address now.

Brighter future for player and sport

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Kadri hoists the Stanley Cup before a Colorado Rockies baseball game. (Getty Embed)

Of course, now that he is a Stanley Cup winner, Kadri will be aiming to do it all over again, only this time as a member of the Flames. (What do you think about that one, Calgary? Sounds pretty great, right?)

But no matter how the rest of his career turns out, no one can take away the things that he has achieved. It's pretty cool to see how he has overcome so many challenges to emerge a champ. We think that this fan sums up beautifully how Kadri deserves to be seen.

Way to go, Naz! London is proud of you, but so are so many people coast to coast!

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