After being traded for each other in July, Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri and Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie switched homes, literally. Kadri rented out Barrie’s Colorado home in the suburbs and Barrie now resides in Kadri’s downtown Toronto condo.
“It’s been great,” Kadri said. “He’s a great guy, very easy to get to know. I’m sure the guys over there are loving him. It’s been a bit of a unique situation but for both of us I don’t think it could have worked out any better.”
While the house swap worked out great for both, the game tonight went a little better for Barrie. His power-play goal was instrumental in helping Toronto fend off the Avalanche’s late-game comeback, winning 5-3 after adding an empty-net goal in the final second.
“It was great. I’m on that side as a one-timer and I’m just trying to be a threat,” Barrie said. “It was a great pass by Willy (William Nylander) and it felt really good to get that one there. Not that there’s any ill will with this team, but it just, you know, coming home in front of all of the familiar faces, it’s nice to get one.”
Barrie was drafted by the Avalanche in 2009 and holds the record for most goals, assists, and points among defensemen. He scored 75 goals and added 232 assists during his time in Colorado. His 307 points came in 432 games.
Playing a season-high 23:26, Kadri also found the scoresheet tonight. Right off the opening faceoff, Kadri fed the puck to defenseman Erik Johnson at the point before Nathan MacKinnon took a feed from Johnson and wristed it past goalie Frederik Andersen 31 seconds in. Kadri would later add another assist on Colorado’s power-play goal, giving the Avalanche a chance to pull within two, and eventually one, before surrendering the late empty-net goal after a forgettable first period.
“I think the first period was a bit of a write-off, we didn’t show up, so we just dug ourselves in a hole and it was too much to climb out of,” Kadri said. “Second and third period, we were definitely the better team but the first period hurt us.”
Also drafted in 2009, the former first-round pick played in 561 games for Toronto, recording 161 goals, 196 assists, and 257 points. He was a fan favorite, oftentimes for his physical game and passion both on and off the ice.
Unlike Barrie, Kadri’s homecoming has yet to take place. The Avalanche travel to Toronto in 11 days for a rematch, a game that Kadri has circled on his calendar. Tonight however was step one in closing that chapter of his career.
“It was odd for sure. It was weird,” Kadri said. “I think I had to look down at my jersey to make sure I was playing for the right team a couple of times.”
But at the other end, the homecoming for Barrie was a success. Especially after new Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe instilled new life in a season that was a disappointment before Thursday’s game in Arizona.
“I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel coming back here,” Barrie said. “But it’s been an amazing place to call home for the last eight years and (the standing ovation) really topped it off. It will always be special to me, and these fans are great. It’s a great hockey club over here so it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch for a lot of years.”