"Rather than wallowing in despair – if, in fact, he is prone to such a tendancy – Nazem can study two of the greatest players in Maple Leafs lore. Hall-of-famers Darryl Sittler and Lanny McDonald were similarly overwhelmed by the immense leap from junior to the NHL.
Sittler, like Kadri, came out of London a terrific junior centre-man four decades ago this fall and made the Leafs as a 20-year-old. But, he played sparingly in 49 games on left wing and produced a mere 18 points. The next season wasn’t much better, as Sittler generated 32 points in 74 games. Only in his third NHL campaign did the St. Jacobs, Ont. native begin to display the form that would keep him atop the Leafs’ all-time scoring list for more than a quarter-century. Sittler had 29 goals and 77 points in 1972-73; he’d put up 80 points or more in each of the next eight seasons while establishing single-year franchise marks of 100 and 117.
McDonald was even more of an early disappointment. Chosen fourth overall by the Leafs in 1973 after a 62-goal eruption in junior for Medicine Hat, he spent much of his first two NHL seasons on his back-side – repeatedly falling, while chipping in only 31 goals in 134 games.
It was ultimately determined that his skates were being improperly sharpened. “Rocker” is the term used for achieving balance between the toe and heel portions of the skate-blade, and Lanny’s were causing him to stumble all over the place. Once he was on solid footing – and teamed with a confident Sittler – the right-winger bloomed spectacularly with 37 goals and 93 points in 1975-76 (his third season), increases of 20 and 49 respectively. He went on to seasons of 46, 47, 43 and 66 goals, the latter with Calgary in 1982-83.
Three of the most prolific point generators in NHL history – Guy Lafleur, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey – also began their careers modestly before flourishing."
Monday, September 27, 2010
Kadri's struggles are nothing new. Just ask Darryl Sittler.
This from Howard Berger over at HockeyBuzz today:
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