Nazem Kadri had to deal with a lot ahead of Monday night’s Game 4 in St. Louis.
The Avalanche center was involved in a controversial collision with Jordan Binnington in Colorado’s Game 3 win on Saturday that left the Blues goaltender with a series-ending injury. Following the game, Binnington reportedly threw a water bottle at Kadri in retaliation while he was doing an interview.
Kadri wasn’t given a penalty for the collision and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t hand down any discipline either. But the blowback from the play didn’t stop at Binnington’s water bottle toss.
Kadri, who is a Muslim of Lebanese descent, received racist messages and death threats on social media. The Associated Press verified the existence of Twitter posts sent to the official Avalanche team account and to Kadri’s calling him “Arab scum” and referencing terrorism. Other posts, some of which have since been deleted, included death threats. The Avs were working with the St. Louis Police Department to investigate the posts, and there was an increased police presence at the team hotel and arena.
Despite all of that, Kadri still managed to turn in a historic Game 4 performance.
The 31-year-old tallied the first playoff hat trick of his career and the first road playoff hat trick in Avs history to power a 6-3 Colorado win, pushing the Blues to the brink of elimination in the process.
Blues players took their runs at Kadri, too. Pavel Buchnevich and David Perron both went to the penalty box for illegal hits on Kadri, who scored his second goal shortly after the power play ended.
Perron appeared to then try to elbow Kadri in the head while he was celebrating the goal.
But, after a tumultuous few days, it was Kadri who got the last laugh.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with that for a long time,” Kadri told TNT of the hateful messages he received online. “That’s sad to say, but that’s just the fact of the matter. I’m getting good at just putting it in the rear-view mirror. It’s a big deal, I try to act like it’s not and [I] just keep moving forward. So that’s what I do.
“I know some of those messages I got doesn’t reflect every fan in St. Louis. But for those who hate, that was for them.”
The Avs center also said he got some extra motivation from Blues head coach Craig Berube, who said “Look at Kadri’s reputation. That’s all I’ve got to say,” in response to the collision.
“It started with their head coach, probably,” Kadri said, via ESPN. “He made some comments that I wasn’t a fan of. I guess he’s never heard of bulletin-board material.”
Kadri and the Avs will look to close out the series when they host St. Louis in Game 5 on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.