Concerned about a trend of off-ice issues, the Toronto Maple Leafs are holding Nazem Kadri out of the next two games.
President Brendan Shanahan said Kadri's problems go beyond being late for a team meeting Sunday, the incident that served as the impetus for this team suspension.
"It's time for him to start making better decisions," Shanahan said Wednesday morning at Air Canada Centre. "There's a history here and there comes a point in the careers of many hockey players in similar situations, there comes a point where you've got to grow up. Naz is 24 now. This is not something that we felt would benefit him if we swept it under the rug.
"So he understands our decision, he understands how serious we are about him taking the next step. And incidents like this won't be tolerated."
Kadri, who will miss Wednesday's home game against the Buffalo Sabres and Friday's road game against the Calgary Flames, was not made available to speak with reporters. On Monday, when he was a healthy scratch against the New York Islanders, the centre said he apologized to teammates and coaches for what he called an "uncharacteristic" mistake.
Some incidents in Kadri's past
The Leafs' punishment made it clear this isn't so uncharacteristic. Shanahan said there have been "some incidents" in Kadri's past but refused go into the details.
"If this was a one-time thing, yeah, you'd love to handle this internally and have him take the guys to lunch, pay a fine, donate some money to charity, something like that," Shanahan said. "This is a moment where a player has to look in the mirror and make some decisions."
Shanahan said Kadri would be available to play Saturday at the Vancouver Canucks "if things go well."
A restricted free agent this summer, Kadri is fourth on the team with 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists). As the team goes into a rebuilding process this summer, Shanahan implied that the 24-year-old London, Ont., native won't be going anywhere.
"It's time for him to take the next step, and we care about him," Shanahan said. "We think he's an important part of this future. And if we didn't think there was potential for him to be an important part of our future, we might not be feeling the same way about this incident."
Interim coach Peter Horachek said the team was "very aware" of Kadri's situation. Asked if this same call would have been made if the Leafs were in the playoff hunt, Horachek referenced the Predators suspending Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn in the 2012 playoffs when he was a Nashville assistant.
"Sometimes you have to make the hardest decisions (that) are based on doing the right thing for the team," Horachek said.
Shanahan wants this to be a "real learning moment" for Kadri and added that what's important is how he responds. Horachek expects Kadri to respond "like a pro."
His teammates are banking on that.
"He's suffering the consequences, and he's going to move on and it's going to be fine," winger Joffrey Lupul said.