Nazem Kadri takes a closer look at Michael Jordan’s legendary career Salim Valji

Calgary Flames forward Nazeem Kadri took money from basketball legend Michael Jordan over the summer — or so he says.

The two spent the summer playing golf together at The Grove XXIII in Hobe Sound, Florida, Jordan’s invitational course. A mutual friend facilitated the invitation, and Kadri ended up teaming up with Jordan and Wayne Gretzky.

After golf, they played cards and Kadri excelled.

“A few bucks,” he laughed about the bonus he earned earlier in training camp. “We threw some cards around afterward, which was fun.”

Kadri reveals on set and hears sports legend’s thoughts on the pitch

“These are people who can relate to what we’re going through,” Kadri said. “Wayne is a really genuine, kind, cool guy… It’s definitely a little surreal. MJ is a big icon, but deep down, you put him in such a more intimate environment and I think he shows that to you Showed who he really was. Just a great guy. Funny, great sense of humor, and great to hear him talk about stories from the past…that guy would size anyone up.”

Kadri also witnessed Jordan’s legendary competitive career.

“That guy probably talked the most trash I’ve ever seen,” Kadri said. “And he was good at it… He was playing golf with some of his good friends and Mike got very competitive and had some cash playing there. “He was trying to get into everyone’s head and it was hilarious… …It’s a psychological battle with him. “

Kadri found some similarities between the Jordans on the golf course and at the card tables and those shown in the “Last Dance” documentary series about the Chicago Bulls championship team of the 1990s.

“Of course, you can definitely make a direct correlation,” he said.

Kadri wouldn’t reveal too much about the story Jordan told, but it’s clear the day had an impact on the Flames’ center.

“I think you can learn a lot about someone by playing four hours together on the golf course and hanging out together,” he said. “There’s not much to say except great things about him.”

Kadri is in the second year of a seven-year, $49 million contract he signed in Calgary last offseason. Most of the talk has been about getting Jonathan Huberdeau back on track after scoring 55 points, but the Flames will need more from Kadri if they want to get back to the playoffs.

The 33-year-old scored 56 points in 82 games last season, but looked less engaged as the season went on. He is expected to be a second-line center this season and mentioned how a long offseason will help him recover physically and mentally after an extended Stanley Cup run with the Colorado Avalanche in 2022.

Heading into the 2023-24 season, he will benefit not only from this break but from a more positive and player-friendly culture under new head coach Ryan Huska.

“He’s valuable to us on the ice,” Huska said. “He’s one of those guys that’s a driver a lot of the time … Naz always wants to put the puck on his stick, but when he doesn’t have the puck, when he’s at his best, he’s getting the puck back Very competitive in terms of quality. He has the ability to make the people around him better in a lot of different ways. “He’s a very important player for us. “

Former Flames player Marc Savard, now forwards coach, brings a creative approach to the team’s attack, providing more set pieces and freedom. He was impressed with Kadri during training camp.

“It’s a match made in heaven,” Savard said of the combination of his creativity and Kadri’s tenacity. “He wants to create and he’s a good guy to have around.”

Kadri even suggested defensive zone breaks to Savard, something the team experimented with in the preseason.

“It didn’t work out because someone ran a bad route, but it’s a good thing when people want to help out and make a difference,” Savard said. “I let them be creative… When you get people involved like this, I think they’ll be more eager to help.”

spark goes out

– Long before he was a Flame, goaltender Jacob Markstrom was a fan of country singer Johnny Cash. So much so that his mask for the next season is a tribute to the Country Music Hall of Famer. The mask features some photos and lyrics of the late singer.

“Johnny Cash and Elvis (Elvis), I’ve been listening to those two guys for decades,” he said. “It’s convenient. I think we’re going to hear the Ring of Fire song after we win, so it makes sense.”

Markstrom joked that he needed to get rid of the skull mask he’s worn in recent seasons.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to add something personal to my mask to make it more like me,” he said. “But I’m also a good fit to represent the team…The guy who drew it did a great job.”

– General manager Craig Conroy has put his stamp on the scouting and hockey operations departments over the past few months, adding a number of new staff members while reassigning other scouts.

“Everybody has fewer teams than they did last year,” he said of the pro scouting aspect of watching players from other NHL teams. “We only had three guys in the whole (league) and now we have four… now they really know their team. When I call them, they know the AHL, NHL, they’ve got it dialed in. “They It felt like I almost worked for that team. “

Dave Nonis, executive vice president of hockey operations, now oversees the pro scouting side. New head pro scout Steve Pleau also changed the rating system and the number of times he wants scouts to watch players. The late Chris Snow was instrumental in establishing the Flames’ analytics department, and new additions to the Major League Baseball realm will be announced soon.

“We’ve reached the stage where we want to take (analytics) to the next level,” Conroy said. “As hockey tracking and everything else evolves, we’re going to be able to reach more…it’s not going to happen overnight, it’s going to take some time to build. It’s very important and it’s always changing. We can learn more and more from it. The more stuff… I like that (the department) is young and has some really fresh ideas. They’re some outside-the-box thinkers too, which is nice. “I’m not sure half the time what they’re talking about, but it sounds like good. ”

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