Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri delivered an all-time performance on Monday night, scoring the first hat-trick of his playoff career in a win over the St. Louis Blues. The 6-3 victory extended Colorado’s series lead to 3-1, with a chance to punch their ticket to the Western Conference Final on home ice Wednesday night.
The Avalanche are now a win away from their first conference final appearance in two decades. That should be a cause for celebration.
Instead, Kadri’s last 48 hours have been a living hell.
During Saturday’s Game 3, Kadri was involved in an ugly collision with Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, who was later ruled out for the series with a knee injury. Blaming him for Binnington’s injury, fans began inundating Kadri’s Twitter and Instagram with racist messages, and even death threats.
Kadri’s wife, Ashley, shared a sampling of the abuse they’ve received on social media, with several referencing Kadri’s religion (he’s a practicing Muslim) and ethnicity (Lebanese).
“Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with that for a long time. That’s sad to say, but that’s just the fact of the matter,” Kadri told TNT’s Paul Bissonnette after the game. “I’m getting good at just putting it in the rearview mirror.”
Hardened by a lifetime of being singled out in an overwhelmingly white sport, Kadri didn’t deny the impact of what happened to him over the weekend, motivating the 31-year-old to play, what many would consider, the greatest game of his NHL career.
“It’s a big deal. I try to act like it’s not,” said Kadri, who led Colorado with 59 assists (one more than teammate Cale Makar) during the regular season. “I know some of those messages I got don’t reflect every single fan in St. Louis. For those that hate, that was for them.”
If the Avalanche are able to close out the series on Wednesday night, they’ll face either the Edmonton Oilers or Calgary Flames (currently playing in the “Battle of Alberta”) in the Western Conference Final.