Recently, Steve Dangle asked if Ron Wilson was an idiot for not using Kadri during his tenure or if Randy Carlyle is a genius for realizing that the young player had great potential. Here's video evidence of this claim!
Like other people, I enjoy reading attempts to answer questions like these, but I think we all can agree that there’s no way to resolve this debate conclusively. In all likelihood, keeping Kadri in the AHL under Dallas Eakins’ tutelage may have been a catalyst for the centre’s success just as much as not allowing him in the NHL may have delayed his progress. Dangle asked this question following Kadri’s first professional hat trick; he hadn’t scored one since playing with the London Knights, so the extra AHL conditioning certainly didn’t give us a clear forecast of #43’s recent offensive downpour.
What I think we can discuss is the perception of Ron Wilson who, in my opinion, is the hockey equivalent of Jean Doumanian. She the producer who took over SNL following the departure of the original “Not Ready for Prime-Time Players” and Lorne Michaels. (I promise that this is the last hockey/SNL blog in a while but not the last forever since I’m not giving up on the campaign to get an NHLer to host again.)
Her brief (not quite full-season) tenure at SNL was fraught with problems, and the show was tanking as badly as the Leafs during the second half of the 2011-12 season. Like Wilson, she had a resource available to her that she didn’t use, one that her colleagues urged her to utilize (perhaps not with as much ferocity as Don Cherry urged Wilson).
Despite free-falling ratings, Doumanian refused to let Eddie Murphy (then an inexperienced teenaged actor) perform in a significant capacity. Instead, he was relegated mostly to non-speaking, extra-type roles, which we might consider the SNL equivalent of Kadri’s usage under Wilson—as a call up when a roster player was unable to play.
Doumanian kept him off the show because she felt the young actor wasn’t mature enough to handle the pressure and responsibility of being on the show (sound familiar?). Murphy used his spare time as an underused cast member to wander around NBC offices and test his material with anyone willing to listen to him; he quickly became a popular person in the offices as he sent everyone into laughing fits. In a similar manner, Kadri became an AHL all-star while awaiting his chance to stick with the big club—one that wouldn’t happen (coincidentally or not) until after the Wilson era. In perhaps the same way, Doumanian’s replacement immediately made Murphy part of the main cast where he thrived in the spotlight and quickly developed into a cornerstone performer.
It’s too early to tell if Kadri will have great success as a Leaf. Regardless of how he plays over his NHL career, it seems certain that the usage of Kadri will be a black mark on Wilson’s reputation.