Lebanon finally joined the prestigious International Ice Hockey Federation this year. But the Lebanese hockey community has been active for years. Internationally recognized NHL player Nazem Kadri began skating since he was just two, and playing organized hockey when he was barely four and for elite-level teams at the tender age of six.
Nazem Kadri moved to Canada with his parents and four sisters from the small Bekaa town of Kfar Danis, Lebanon. Nazem is openly religious and proud of his Muslim faith, and has expressed publically that it is a source of his inspiration. He was the first Muslim drafted by the Canadian Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.
Kadri is the fourth player of Lebanese descent to play in the NHL, following John Hanna, Alain Nasreddine, and Ed Hatoum – all international renown players in their own right. Kadri grew up a fan of Montreal Canadiens as his father, interestingly enough, was drawn to the team following his immigration to Canada.
Kadri attended training camp with the Maple Leafs prior to the 2009–10 season. He played in six pre-season games with the club. He was called up to the Maple Leafs on an emergency basis, making his NHL debut on February 8, 2010, against the San Jose Sharks.
Fast-forwarding to 2013, Kadri signed a new two-year $5.8 million contract with Toronto Maple Leafs. During the 2013–2014 season, with his first full 82-game season, Kadri set career-highs with 20 goals and 50 points. In 2017, in a game against the Calgary Flames, Kadri scored his 100th career NHL goal.
In July 2018, Kadri married his long term girlfriend turned fiancée Ashley Cave at Casa Loma, a Gothic Revival mansion and garden in midtown Toronto, Ontario, which is a historic house museum and landmark. True to his culture of origins, Kadri had a typical fancy Lebanese wedding, not missing the zaffee and Lebanese music entertainment.
This summer 2019, on July 1st, Kadri was traded to the team “Colorado Avalanche” in exchange for player Tyson Barrie, a move that saddened him and all his Canadian fans.
It is important we mention that Kadri has another fame he’s carrying: the Legend’s Charity Golf Classic, for his Nazem Kadri Charity Gulf, a tournament he created and that has been assisting several organizations in Ontario, specifically his Canadian hometown of London, Ontario.
In his words to CTV News London, “The community is important. They gave lots to me, especially when I was younger, this was all I knew. For the position I have been put in, I think it is important for me to give back, you know, especially in the youth.”