TORONTO — Nazem Kadri vehemently disagrees with the diving label he's been tagged with by the National Hockey League.
The Maple Leafs centre has drawn US$5,000 worth of fines this season, the latest coming Friday for his third separate instance of diving or embellishment. The latest citation, worth $3,000 for his actions in a game Mar. 21 against Calgary, drew the brunt of his ire.
The 25-year-old was slashed in the back of the leg by Flames forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Josh Jooris moments after he hit Gaudreau into the end boards. Kadri was somewhat theatrical in his reaction, deemed to have overly sold the play.
"I looked at that particular play again (and) the guy wound up so far his stick was out of the frame — I couldn't even see it anymore," Kadri said Saturday. "Not to mention the massive welt I had on the back of my leg after that fact.
"Whoever's making that decision, I'd like to see them take one of those with no padding and see how it feels. I don't know how I was supposed to react."
The league's leader in drawn penalties for two seasons running (he was tied for second in 2013-'14), Kadri was initially warned for diving in a Feb. 4 game against New Jersey after he was elbowed in the face by Adam Henrique. He was cited again Mar. 12 versus Ottawa, selling an interference play against Chris Neil that ultimately went uncalled.
"I think you can make a penalty more obvious but that doesn't change the fact that it's still a penalty," said Kadri. "Diving and making something a little more obvious is two different things."
Kadri's next citation for diving/embellishment will draw a $4,000 personal fine as well as a $2,000 fine for head coach Mike Babcock. The fines increase for Babcock after subsequent citations this season.
Babcock believes Kadri has already developed a reputation for diving. His advice to Kadri was to "play as hard as you possibly can" and draw penalties that way.
"You don't have to embellish anything," Babcock said.
"I think he appreciates how hard I play and how I hard I compete," Kadri said of his coach.
Entering Saturday's home game against Detroit, Kadri has 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) and 71 penalty minutes in 75 games this season.
Kadri, who said he wouldn't change the way he plays as a result of the fine, was sporting a black right eye from a late-game scrum in a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres last Thursday.
"I guess this was a dive too, I'm not quite sure," he said.
Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press