A story in the Toronto Star recently highlighted the fact that large numbers of juniors are not participating in Canada's No. 1 game. An example was the once mighty Scarborough Hockey Association, which once had 10,000 members had dropped a massive 60 percent.
Hockey in Scarborough was the No. 1 sport of choice for many local children and the association thrived. Now, some are saying some house leagues and organised hockey could be gone within two years.
The reason for the low numbers, as the article points out, is that Scarborough and many other neighbouring GTA areas are being changed demographically.
The majority of new residents in these neighbourhoods are immigrants from very different cultures and, consequently, sporting passions. For the large part, the majority are from the Sub Continent, Middle East, and Africa, not particularly huge ice hockey markets.
Hockey also is quite expensive and not realistically achievable for new immigrants attempting to survive day to day.
Nazem Kadri, however, is one such Canadian from a cultural background not conducive to hockey. The London Knight has bucked the stereotype that people from these cultures can't skate or play hockey.
Kadri himself has stated to media after being selected by the Maple Leafs he wishes to be a role model for Lebanese children to take up the sport. A role model not just for his community, but for much larger audience.
Toronto is a very multicultural city, with a team that lacks a face this community can respond to. Kadri can be that face, that identity children of non-hockey cultures look up to. Kadri may be the one who saves Junior Hockey in Toronto.