Nazem Kadri brings the Stanley Cup to his hometown mosque
Former Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri brought the Stanley Cup to his hometown mosque on Saturday.
It was a day filled with pride and joy for Kadri, 31, who won the title with the Avs last season.
“That’s the goal, to inspire and motivate young people. This younger generation is looking for role models, so I’m trying my best and I’m just happy to be able to share it with everyone,” he said.
“I didn’t expect this kind of turnout. I am very grateful to all the supporters.”
Kadri started her day with the cut at the Muslim Mosque in London. He said the mosque was part of his past.
“It’s part of my roots, it’s part of who I am,” he said.
“For all these people, I know they’re on my side, (it) just goes to show that they came here for me – just so grateful for them.”
Hundreds of people, many wearing Toronto Maple Leafs Kadri jerseys and t-shirts, gathered shortly before noon at the mosque alongside Kadri’s family and loved ones. He was greeted with a loud ovation.
Munir El-Kassem, religious director of the Islamic Center of London, and Faisal Joseph, a lawyer, activist and long-time community member, addressed the crowd, sharing stories about Kadri’s character and what he represents for the community, especially Muslims. from London.
Mayor Ed Holder also addressed the crowd, declaring Kadri “the greatest Londoner”.
After Kadri paused to sign t-shirts, jerseys and photos, the celebration moved to Victoria Park, to the Kiwanis Memorial Bandshell Stage. A number of Lebanese flags – the country where Kadri’s family is from – were held high, along with a few Canadian flags.
Holder presented Kadri with the key to the city.
“There’s a reason I don’t just celebrate this with my family. I wanted to come here and share with you guys,” Kadri told the crowd. “You have been supporting me since day one and I can’t tell you enough how much that means to me.
“I hope this inspires and motivates the kids to chase your dreams, because I never thought it was possible. I had a lot of support and people made me believe. If you believe in it, you can succeed. Seeing everyone come here and support me inspires me and motivates me even more, so we’re going to try to bring this thing back (when) I go to Calgary.
Kadri’s message of hope touched the young Muslims present.
“I think it’s really an amazing experience for the Muslim community and it’s really inspiring for us,” said 15-year-old Zayan Khan. “If he can win the Stanley Cup as a Muslim, he will inspire more Muslims to achieve their dreams.”
Kadri’s visit was a welcome celebration in a community that was rocked by tragedy last year. Four members of a Muslim family were run over by a truck and killed in what police described as being motivated by anti-Muslim hatred.
“It is difficult. We are still dealing with the scars and grief that stemmed from the horrific attack that happened last year in our community,” said Hassan Mostafa, a family friend who sits on the board of directors of the Kadri foundation.
“Does celebrating this erase all of this? Absolutely not. But it’s great to have something huge like that to celebrate. Our community needs something like this, and we’re so excited and so proud.
Kadri has faced his share of racism and Islamophobia, especially in the recent playoffs.
After a collision with St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington in Game 3 of the second round that knocked Binnington out of the series with an injury, Kadri was the target of numerous racist threats and comments on social media.
Kadri’s father, Samir, said his son’s strength in fending off noise makes his accomplishment even greater.
“I could say it’s nice, but it’s not like revenge or anything like that to be honest with you, I don’t think it’s like that,” he said. “I think it’s really amazing to be able to experience that, especially when you’re going through the trials and tribulations of racing.
“I felt it myself immigrating from Lebanon in the 60s and going through the school system here and dealing with this stuff. I know my son took care of it, but I feel like there’s more of a connection, you know, where people will realize, ‘Hey, you know, maybe they don’t are really no different.’ This kind of helps in this case. We are blessed for this.
Kadri set career highs with 59 assists and 87 points in his third and final season with the Avalanche. He had seven goals and eight assists in 16 playoff games in Colorado’s title run.
Kadri signed a seven-year, $49 million contract with the Flames last week.