tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nazem Kadri, like Leafs fans, submits to fate

Guileless Toronto Maple Leafs fans will buy almost anything you're selling, including--and this is especially frustrating--tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs.

We are also prone to a seasonal recurrence of a delusion that a return to glory is just one more player away.

We've bought overhyped imports named Lindros, Peca, Kubina, O'Neill, Blake, Grabovsky and Andrew flippin' Raycroft, and held onto them well past their sell-by date.

We've believed in guys like Tucker, McCabe, Belak, Ponikarovsky, Wellwood, Antropov, and Toskala longer than Jesus would have.

Just recently we purchased a whopper of a tall tale that General Manager Brian Burke could harness the moon and trade it for John Tavares; so credulous are we that when Tavares morphed into a gimpy Phil Kessel we actually said, "John who?"

We're hopelessly optimistic and simultaneously predictably fatalistic. So, as shadows grow long with autumn's arrival indicating the return of hockey season, is this year any exception to Leaf Nation delusion?

All of those names on the Leafs' wall of recent shame share two things in common: None of them has laced up his skates for a playoff game at the ACC since the Lockout; and not one of them is Lebanese.

That was supposed to change this year. With their first-round pick at this summer's NHL draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Nazem Kadri, a Lebanese-Canadian phenom from London, Ontario (whose photograph, apparently, the Leafs' web editor hasn't found yet).

Kadri is coming off back-to-back 25-goal seasons for the Kitchener Rangers and the London Knights (where he teamed with John Tavares) of the OHL. He turns 19 next week. He's hyped to be an explosive skater who plays with a hard edge.

Leafs fans will buy anything. A screen door for a submarine? We'll take two. The Brooklyn Bridge? Just set it over there next to Kaberle. An explosive Lebanese hockey player. Oh geez, why not?

But little did we know that the never-before-tried combination of Canadian hockey prowess and Lebanese, well, something or other, would produce such jaw-dropping results. Over the past few weeks Nazem Kadri has had Leafs fans partying like it's 1967.

At his peak, Kadri willed the team to a preseason victory over the Stanley-Cup-laden Pittsburgh Penguins; he scored the tying goal in the waning moments of regulation and the winner in the shootout.

The Leafs wasted no time in inking him to a three-year entry-level contract. Then, they promptly put him on a bus back to London. Thanks for packing in the preseason fans, now go enjoy more of the OHL.

It was fate that Kadri should tantalize us with his talents for a few weeks and then be banished for another year in the junior leagues. No really, even his last name [ قدرى ] derives from the Arabic meaning "one who submits to the will of fate."

The Arabic of his first name [ ناظم ] originally meant a kind of classical Arabic versifier or poet; a man who transformed the ho-hum into the sublime.

Sigh, go the Leafs fans. At least one more year of cheering for mediocrity... and the London Knights!

And on that note, here is the Tuque Souq's fearless 37-second NHL preview:

EASTERN CONFERENCE: 1-Bruins; 2-Penguins; 3-Caps; 4-Flyers; 5-Canes; 6-Senators; 7-Lightning; 8-Habs; 9-Devils; 10-Panthers; 11-Sabres; 12-Rangers; 13-Thrashers; 14-Leafs; 15-Islanders.

CONFERENCE TITLE: B's over Caps in 7.

WESTERN CONFERENCE: 1-Sharks; 2-Blackhawks; 3-Flames; 4-Ducks; 5-Wings; 6-Preds; 7-Canucks; 8-Blues; 9-Wild; 10-Blue Jackets; 11-Oilers; 12-Kings; 13-Stars; 14-Avs; 15-Coyotes.

CONFERENCE TITLE: Flames over Ducks in 7.

STANLEY CUP: Bruins over Flames in 6.

The puck drops on the 2009-2010 season tomorrow evening at 7pm. We Leafs fans are never less fatalistic than right before opening night. After that, we are Nazem Kadri.

No comments: