- Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.
St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube, after originally declining to comment on the matter, said Wednesday that the racist comments and threats directed at Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri are “in no way acceptable.”
“I just want to comment on my ‘no comment’ the other day,” Berube said before Game 5 in Denver. “I’m not on social media. I was aware of a threat made to Nazem. Not the racist stuff. In no way is it acceptable by the St. Louis Blues or anybody else for him to have to go through that.”
Kadri, who is Muslim and of Lebanese descent, was the subject of racist comments and threats following his collision with Blues goalie Jordan Binnington in Game 3 of their second-round series. Binnington, who had been outstanding in five postseason games, suffered a lower-body injury in a collision with Kadri and Blues defenseman Calle Rosen. Binnington has been ruled out for the rest of the series.
Local law enforcement was called to investigate threats made toward Kadri on social media, and there was increased police presence both at the Avalanche’s team hotel in St. Louis and around the players’ entrance to the ice at Enterprise Center in Game 4.
Kadri wasn’t called for a penalty on the play that resulted in Binnington’s injury, and the NHL department of player safety determined there was no need for supplemental discipline. Berube, however, questioned Kadri’s role in the injury.
“Look at Kadri’s reputation. That’s all I’ve got to say,” he said of Kadri, who has had multiple postseason suspensions, including an eight-game ban for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk in the 2021 playoffs.
With Ville Husso in net for St. Louis, the Avalanche won Games 3 and 4 to take a 3-1 series lead, with Kadri scoring a hat trick in Monday night’s win. After Game 4, Kadri said Berube’s comments served as motivation.
“It started with their head coach, probably. He made some comments that I wasn’t a fan of,” Kadri said. “I guess he’s never heard of bulletin board material.”
When asked before Game 4 about the reported threats to Kadri, Berube said he had “no comment.” But on Wednesday, he said he sympathized with Kadri.
“Being a Native American myself, I’ve heard it all,” Berube said. “I’ve been around it. It’s not a good thing. So I just wanted to get that out there that there’s no room for it anywhere.”
Berube’s initial “no comment” received criticism from hockey fans and media in light of the threats.
Colorado coach Jared Bednar defended his colleague after Game 4.
“It’s not my obligation or Berube’s obligation to have a comment about every question outside of hockey that people ask us,” Bednar said. “If you asked him off the record sometime, he’d probably say he didn’t like the comments either. But you’re not obligated to comment on it because people want your opinion on it.”
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