KELOWNA--Even out here on the west coast you can feel the frustration of Nazem Kadri and those who want him to be a Leaf.
This was supposed to be the time he came to say in the bigs, so his demotion to the Marlies on Wednesday along with defenceman Keith Aulie, ostensibly to make room for Colby Armstrong and John-Michael Liles to come off the injured list, came as a bit of a surprise.
But if you thought it meant GM Brian Burke has finally run out of patience with Kadri, you'd be wrong.
"Naz is going to be a good NHL player," said Burke in an email. "But young players need to bring urgency and energy to the game, and those components have tailed off.
"He's going to be just fine."
One point in 10 games just isn't the kind of production Kadri is going to need to stay in the NHL, and the solid 14 minutes he was getting every night alongside good offensive players provided ample opportunity to do more.
He's also at the stage of his career where he doesn't require waivers to go down, so when a veteran is healthy and ready to go, it's not surprising the youngster who isn't producing gets the boot.
This won't help Burke in his ongoing war with Don Cherry, as Cherry has been an unabashed supporter of keeping Kadri in the show. Might hear more about that Saturday night.
Those who would accuse Burke of refusing to give Kadri opportunity haven't been watching the games, and to a larger point, haven't noticed that over the years the Leafs have often been accused of rushing their youngsters and rarely credited with demanding their top prospects get the necessary minor-league lessons down before sticking in the NHL.
Still, nobody would be stunned if Kadri were the prospect to move if the Leafs pull the trigger on a deal. He's going to play in the NHL. The question is whether he's going to be able to play in Toronto for this coaching staff, or whether, as often happens with young players, he'll need a change of scenery before the light goes on.
That said, this is also true. Kadri still needs to acquire greater body strength through training, and the lack of that may be why his "urgency and energy" haven't been in recent days what they were when he was first recalled.
The team that gets him to realize that and spend more time in the gym will be the one that reaps the rewards of his undeniable skill and, as shown by his big hit Tuesday night, nose for a gritty style of game.