Dallas Eakins Made a Mistake Criticizing Leafs Prospect Nazem Kadri's Fitness

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 23:  Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on March 23, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. The Maple Leafs defeated the Devils 4-3 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry made some very strong comments on Tuesday in reaction to what Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins said about talented Maple Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri's body fat last week when the team's training camp began.

Eakins on Kadri: "His body fat today is probably in the bottom three to five guys in our whole camp and that’s unacceptable."

— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) Sept. 28, 2012

Kadri, meanwhile, didn't have the same opinion on his overall fitness as his coach.

Kadri says his body fat could've been lower, but overall he's "happy" with level of fitness at camp.

— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) Sept. 28, 2012

Cherry used his Twitter account to share his opinion on the situation.

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..

— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) Oct. 2, 2012

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...

— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) October 2, 2012

Marlie coach comes out and rips Kadri in the newspaper saying he doesn't eat properly.Imagine headlines saying he's chubby and fatso.

— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) October 2, 2012

If anyone wants to get a blue print on how to destroy someone, just follow the Toronto Maple Leafs

— Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) October 2, 2012

Cherry criticism is quite strong, but it's hard to disagree with much of what he said. Even if Kadri came into camp overweight and out of shape, you never tell the media that information, especially when you're in a media market like Toronto where this kind of news becomes a bigger deal than it really is.

It's shocking that Eakins would address Kadri's unimpressive body fat levels with the media ahead of an incredibly important season for the young forward. That's terrible coaching, and it may be hard for Kadri to trust Eakins now that he's made this information public.

Kadri should not have come into camp with unacceptable fitness levels, especially after he trained with former Leafs star Gary Roberts in the offseason. Roberts' training program is very beneficial for players who are looking to get stronger and improve their eating habits, among other things.

Kadri has a responsibility to take care of his body in the offseason, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Eakins made an awful mistake by announcing to reporters that the young forward did not meet the team's fitness levels.

Eakins is one of the best coaches in the AHL, and helped lead the Marlies to the Calder Cup Final last season. He should know that his comments weren't going to benefit Kadri in any way, and were only going to make matters worse.

You don't criticize a top prospect in this manner, especially one such as Kadri, who has had a difficult time making the NHL roster.

The Leafs organization has mismanaged Kadri for a few years now, and it's clear that the only way he will flourish as an NHL player is to leave Toronto.

 

Nicholas Goss is an NHL lead writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.