Nazem Kadri’s Stanley Cup turn will feature the Muslim community in his hometown of London, Ontario. | Radio-Canada News

Nazem Kadri will walk through the doors of the Muslim Mosque in London, southwestern Ontario, with the Stanley Cup this weekend as part of a celebration in his hometown that the 31-year-old NHL star wanted by design.

Kadri, the only son of five children born in London to Lebanese parents, would be the first Muslim player to win an NHL championship. It happened in June, when his then-team Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the playoffs in June. After a long career with the Toronto Maple Leafs before joining Colorado, he is now with the Calgary Flames.

But before lacing up his skates for Team Canada West, he’ll hoist the Cup himself, and he’s looking forward to doing so alongside London’s Muslim community. It all starts with a parade on Saturday afternoon.

Most of this is for young people, for the next generation, trying to inspire them, to see the shining trophy, having the same dream as me.– Nazem Kadri, Stanley Cup champion

“Most of it is for the young people, for the next generation, trying to inspire them, to see the shining trophy, to have the same dream as me,” Kadri told CBC News.

A long-time family friend, Hassan Mostafa, said starting the festivities at the mosque was a way for Kadri to involve the community that meant so much to him.

“Nazem is proud of his Muslim heritage, and the Kadri family certainly wanted to start the parade at the mosque on purpose,” Mostafa said. “He’s going to come out of the mosque with the cup hoisted high and really show that you can be a Muslim, you can be different, you can be from a different background and still have the best of success in a wonderful country like Canada.”

Mostafa admitted that at first he was skeptical when Kadri’s father, Samir, said his young son was linked to the NHL.

“His dad was like, ‘Yeah, my son is going to the NHL’ and we really weren’t sure that was a realistic goal, but he proved us all wrong, and we’re so proud of Nazem and of what he accomplished and won the Stanley Cup.”

Kadri said he was looking forward to hoisting the Cup in London.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to share with the community and with my family. I’ve been looking forward to it all summer, so I can’t wait,” he told CBC News.

“Youth hockey and junior hockey in London has come a long way and has had a great impact in the community and in the London area. It really taught me a lot of life lessons.”

It’s an honor to be the first to do anything, Kadri said.

“It’s very special. Growing up, watching the NHL, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me or looked like my background, so young people are going to look at this in a brighter light. I think it will attract young people more diverse in sport.”

The road to victory came with challenges

The road to Stanley Cup victory was not easy for Kadri, who spent his junior hockey career with the Kitchener Rangers and then the London Knights before being drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2009. To some moments of his career, he knew how to questioned.

Kadri, shown in a game in the 2021 NHL season, helped Colorado beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals in June. (Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

On the ice, he often plays the role of agitator.

During this year’s NHL playoffs, he collided with St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington. Later, the guard threw a bottle of water at Kadri while Kadri was being interviewed for television. Kadri was also the subject of racist threats on social media following the collision with Binnington.

Although he made a few enemies from players on opposing teams, Kadri had a stellar year with Colorado, contributing to a career-high 87 regular-season points. His efforts propelled the Avalanche through the playoffs and also helped him land a US$49 million contract with Calgary as a free agent.

For his father, all those hours of early morning training are worth it.

“I have to say, hockey parents are the best parents in the sport. You get up in the morning, it’s snowing, it’s cold, you go to a cold arena. It’s a lot of dedication, but it’s something which Nazem enjoyed, so I enjoyed watching it,” said Samir Kadri.

“The number of minority hockey registrations is definitely on the rise, Nazem has been able to inspire the kids. In Canada, hockey is so relevant to Canada and when you watch the sport and see someone who is a different color, you associate with them. , and you think you can do it. We are very proud of it.

Saturday’s celebration comes as the Muslim community in London continues to bear the pain of last year’s attack which left four Muslim families dead. Police said the attack was motivated by hate. A man charged with murder and terrorism-related charges is set to stand trial next year.

While no hockey victory can heal such a deep wound, Mostafa said it would be good to see the community come together and celebrate the successes of one of their own.

Mostafa said many children in Muslim homes picked up sticks and tied skates, inspired by Kadri.

“I would say Nazem is the most famous Muslim in Canada,” Mostafa said. “He’s definitely someone our young kids look up to and look up to and try to emulate.”

Cup intended for the mosque

Munsur Haidar, 13, also a Muslim of Lebanese descent, plays minor bantam hockey and was inspired by Kadri. His family is close to the Kadri family and he was inspired by them.

“It shows he’s done it, so why can’t I if I’m working hard enough,” Haidar said. “It’s just nice to know that someone I’ve grown up watching my entire life has accomplished something so great.”

Having the Stanley Cup at the mosque will be very special, said the young player.

“It brings him to a place where I’ve been all the time, all my life. It’s going to be an amazing feeling. I know he grew up like me, with some struggles, and that’s a motivation for me that s ‘He can do it, why can’t I?

Saturday’s events begin at the mosque, which is on Oxford Street, at 12:05 p.m. ET. From there, the cup will travel to Victoria Park for a community celebration at 12:45 p.m.

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