Fate is one of the biggest factors in our lives. That said, I’m not a big fan of “what ifs.” Whatever happens, happens. Frankly, we can only take one path. Life just leads us to believe there is more than one trail available. So cruel. And that’s what got me thinking about Darryl Boyce and Nazem Kadri.

Darryl Boyce is a 26-year old Prince Edward Islander. Not a kid, by any stretch. He played four full years of major junior hockey, then parlayed that into an education at the University of New Brunswick. He was never drafted by an NHL team. His minor pro career, with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, has been fraught with injury. He played one lonely NHL game in his first pro season. He is no longer, if he ever was, a prospect. He’s a roster-filler. That’s all.

Nazem Kadri is a 20-year old, London, Ontario native. Just a kid. He played four full years of major junior hockey, and was drafted seventh overall by the Leafs in 2009. He played one NHL game in his final year of junior. He is the biggest prospect the Leafs have.

And here’s where the “what if” comes in. What if, when Kadri was called up this season, he was him – instead of Boyce – who recorded an assist in his first game, then scored a goal in his second? How would that have influenced the next fifteen NHL games Kadri played? Because, the way it was, Kadri struggled through his entire 17 contests with the Leafs before, unceremoniously, being punted back to the Marlies. What if he had scored off the bat? And why did Boyce manage to?

Here’s what I know about Darryl Boyce. I watched him play, in person, over a hundred games with the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors of the OHL (before they moved to dreary Mississauga). I never once, not one time, saw him dog a shift or not bust his a** on the ice. Never. He was a complete pain in the opposition’s keester. Boyce accrued over 450 PIMs in his junior career. He was unloved by fans on the road.

I have a feeling those are some of the reasons Boyce has already had a lot more luck in his Leafs’ stint this season than Kadri did. Oh, Kadri started with great fanfare against the Canucks on November 13th. He played over 18 minutes and skated miles. He had three assists in his first three games. But never that elusive goal. And that’s when he started to fade.

By the end of his 17 games, Kadri’s minutes had dropped dramatically, and he’d been a healthy scratch three times. What if he’d scored early? How would that have affected his confidence? And, just as importantly, how would that have affected how management and the fans saw him and his game? And how many more would he have pumped in once that first one hit the back of the net? We’ll never know.

But the early success can’t be hurting Darryl Boyce. Maybe those six extra years of life gave him a leg up on Kadri. Maybe Boyce will quickly tail off. Maybe not.

Either way, fate sure has a strange way of affecting young lives and careers, doesn’t it?

  • I just can’t figure out how having Kadri play in the AHL will help him while the Oilers have

    Hall, Eberle, Pajaravi, Omark, Petry, Pekham
    and O’mara (demoted)

    Playing and developing with NHL competition. We already suck and have nothing to gain by developing all this talent in the AHL.

    Kadri should be toughing it out with the Big Boys! When the leafs come out of their Comatose play, he’d be part of it!

    • I think it’s almost impossible for those of us, outside the management of the team, to make an educated assessment of what’s best for Kadri.

      Each management team has its own philosophy. Personally, I’d have him in Toronto. If he’s going to be an NHLer, he’s going to have to play right here. If he can’t hack the big show, maybe he’s not an NHLer to begin with. We’d find that out.

      On the other side of the coin, if playing with the Leafs erodes his confidence to the point where it’s affecting his future potential, perhaps he should be in the AHL.

      And, if I was drafting future NHLers, I’d be doing it based on 75% character, 25% talent. Which means I’d never have chosen Kadri in the first place.