By David Alter
Nazem Kadri said the Calgary Flames expressed interest the moment he became an unrestricted free agent, but it was an “elaborate process” before he finally signed on the dotted line on Thursday.
“The patience definitely did me some good,” Kadri told reporters in a Zoom call Friday. “There were some decisions to be made.”
The Flames’ wild off-season took another dramatic turn Thursday when the team signed the coveted free agent to a seven-year, US$49-million deal.
Before the deal could be made official, Calgary sent forward Sean Monahan and a conditional 2025 first-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for future considerations in a move to create salary cap space for Kadri’s contract.
“That’s part of the reason why it’s been taking so long,” Kadri said from Paris, where he is on vacation.
The 32-year-old Kadri was one of the biggest names available in free agency after an all-star season with Colorado that ended with the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup.
The benefits of returning to Canada, where his NHL career started, and taking part in the ‘Battle of Alberta’ with the provincial-rival Edmonton Oilers were benefits to signing with the Flames, but what ultimately led him to sign was how close he feels the team is to winning a Stanley Cup.
“Ultimately, it’s about winning and that played a huge factor in me coming to Calgary,” Kadri said. “The time is now and it certainly can be close with the moves we’ve made and me hopping on board.”
The 31-year-old Kadri had 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 71 games for the Avalanche in 2021-22. He added 15 points in 16 playoff games, including the overtime winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay.
That was his return to action after being injured in Game 3 of the Western Conference final after being hit from behind by Edmonton forward Evander Kane.
Kadri’s addition capped a wild off-season for the Flames that saw star forward Johnny Gaudreau walk away in free agency.
The Flames’ leading scorer last season (115 points), and a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP, Gaudreau informed the Flames before the start of the free agency period that we would not be re-signing with the Flames in a desire to move closer to home.
The New Jersey native signed a seven-year, $68.25-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets when free agency opened on July 13,.
Calgary was then informed that forward Matthew Tkachuk, who had a breakout season with 42 goals and 104 points, would not sign a contract extension after the upcoming season.
What looked like a potential nightmare for Calgary started to turn around when the Flames dealt Tkachuk to Florida for a package that included forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who had 115 points last season, and defenceman Mackenzie Weegar.
The Flames then locked up Huberdeau long-term with an eight-year, $84-million contract extension.
“It’s alarming to anybody when you lose players of that magnitude,” Kadri said. “But I think Brad (Flames GM Brad Treliving) has done a great job getting some return and valuable players.”
This is not the first time the Flames have tried to add Kadri to their roster. The Flames attempted to acquire him from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019, but Kadri used the no-trade clause in his contract to veto the deal. Kadri was then traded to the Avalanche on July 1, 2019.
“I didn’t see myself leaving (Toronto),” Kadri said about the situation. “That had nothing to do with the city of Calgary or the organization, I just wanted to stay where I was.
“It’s important for me to clarify that. I think it’s important because I’ve always admired the city of Calgary and Canada in general. I’m a Canadian boy. I love playing in Canada but it’s certainly ironic, but it was always a team that was on my radar.”
Kadri was selected seventh overall by Toronto in the 2009 NHL draft and has 512 points (219 goals, 293 assists) in 739 career games with the Maple Leafs and Colorado.
The London, Ontario native has yet to have his day with the Stanley Cup, but his plans include taking it to his hometown.
He also said he’s going to bring it to Toronto, where he spent his first eight NHL seasons.
“I’ve done a lot of growing up in that city as well and there’s been lots of supports of mine there,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2022.
‘Ludicrous’: Prosecutor questions testimony of teen in Calgary hit-and-run cop death
By Bill Graveland in Calgary
A prosecutor suggested Wednesday a teen charged with first-degree murder in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary Police Service officer had no reason to believe he was in danger.
Sgt. Andrew Harnett died in hospital on Dec. 31, 2020, after being dragged by a fleeing SUV and falling into the path of an oncoming car.
The alleged driver, who cannot be identified because he was 17 at the time, has testified he was scared when Harnett and another officer approached the vehicle during a traffic stop and he saw Harnett put his hand on his gun.
But during cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Mike Ewenson played the body-camera footage of the stop. He asked the accused, who is now 19, if there was any proof Harnett was being threatening or insulting during the routine traffic stop.
“You brought up George Floyd in your direct examination. Do you remember what happened to George Floyd?” Ewenson asked.
The accused replied: “He got pulled out of the vehicle and I think they stepped on his neck … and he said he couldn’t breathe.”
Floyd was a Black man who was killed during an arrest by Minnesota police on May 25, 2020.
During testimony Tuesday, the teen testified he and his friends had discussed the Floyd case on social media.
“Let’s talk about what we just saw with Sgt. Harnett if we could, because you’re bringing this up at a trial that involves his death,” said Ewenson. “Any abusive language from him?”
“No,” the teen replied.
“Anything that was insulting to your age, your race, your ethnic background or religion,” Ewenson asked.
“Not necessarily, no. Actually, I felt like I was being racialized, right? Just the fact that the door opened and the fact that he asked for my phone number. I’ve never been asked for my phone number.”
Ewenson said any talk of the traffic stop being racist was just something the teen wanted the court to “take his word for” and there’s nothing that would be considered racist from Harnett’s behaviour.
“That’s how I felt,” the accused replied.
The teen repeatedly told Ewenson that he wasn’t sure how he ended up in the neighbourhood. He said he was following his GPS to get to a party. He also said he didn’t know who the third person in the back seat of the vehicle was, who had come with a friend.
Ewenson said it’s unlikely there would be memory lapses after an event that was the “most traumatic, powerful” and “consequential” night of the teen’s life.
“So looking back on it, you realize the story is ludicrous? The story doesn’t make sense, does it?” Ewenson asked. “Everything for you is a mindless reaction.”
The suspect said at the time he panicked and just decided to take off because he was afraid. The teen said looking back, he wishes his decision had been different.
“Look, to be frank to you, I’ve sat for two years in jail and I’ve thought about this over and over and over again,” he said. “It’s different when I think about it now and what I was going through at the moment.”
Ewenson suggested it was more likely something illegal was inside the suspect vehicle that made fleeing a simple traffic stop worth the risk.
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled for Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.
Incredible luxury homes and vehicles seized in massive international $55 million drug bust with Alberta roots
Niagara-On-The-Lake home seized by police in Project Cobra operation
News release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)
Project Cobra intercepts $55 million worth of drugs
More than an estimated $55 million worth of methamphetamine and cocaine has been seized following a cross-border investigation by ALERT, RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Project Cobra is a nearly three-year organized crime investigation into transnational drug importation, drug trafficking, and money laundering.
As the result of enforcement initiatives on both sides of the border, 928 kilograms of methamphetamine and 6 kilograms of cocaine were intercepted. In addition, approximately $7 million worth of assets have been seized or placed under criminal restraint.
Project Cobra relied on the assistance of a number of police agencies and specialized units, including: Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Niagara Regional Police, Canada Revenue Agency, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), and RCMP units in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Saskatoon, North Battleford, Sask., and Osoyoos, B.C.
Police agencies collaborated to make numerous large-scale drug seizures during the course of Project Cobra. These were shipments destined for Alberta, and included the following seizures:
- 342 kg of meth in Wyoming;
- 308 kg of meth in Los Angeles;
- 137 kg of meth in Calgary;
- 84 kg of meth in Los Angeles;
- 50 kg of meth at Lake Koocanusa, B.C.;
- 7 kg of meth and 1 kg of cocaine in Calgary; and
- 5 kg of cocaine in North Battleford, Sask.
Nineteen firearms were also seized, which included handguns, rifles, submachine guns, and suppressors.
Seven million dollars’ worth of property, bank accounts, luxury vehicles, and other suspected proceeds of crime has been seized or placed under criminal restraint. This includes a $3.5 million home in Niagara-on-the-Lake, two Lamborghinis, a Porsche, classic cars, and $200,000 cash.
Project Cobra began in 2020 and a series of 11 coordinated search warrants were executed in December 2021. Homes, vehicles, businesses, and storage locations were searched in Calgary, Bedford, Nova Scotia, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., and Leduc County, Alta.
Fifteen people and one business have been charged with 80 criminal offences ranging from participation in a criminal organization, to importation of a controlled substance, to laundering proceeds of crime, to drug trafficking.
The suspects were arrested and charged between May 2022 and August 2022:
- Elias Ade, 38-year -old from Calgary, charged with 12 offences;
- Abdul Akbar, 37-year-old from Calgary, charged with 8 offences;
- Tianna Bull, 25-year-old from North Battleford, charged with 1 offence;
- Lina El-Chammoury, 50-year-old from Calgary, charged with 2 offences;
- Russell Ens, 39-year-old from North Battleford, charged with 2 offences;
- Talal Fouani, 46-year-old from Calgary, charged with 3 offences;
- Belal Fouani, 44-year-old from Calgary, charged with 3 offences;
- Kari-Lynn Grant, 51-year-old from Calgary, charged with 4 offences;
- Scott Hunt, 33-year-old from Calgary, charged with 3 offences;
- Ricco King, 50-year-old from Bedford, N.S., charged with 5 offences;
- Jarett Mackenzie, 32-year-old from Calgary, charged with 6 offences;
- Jesse Marshall, 52-year-old from Calgary, charged with 4 offences;
- Daniel Menzul, 32-year-old from Calgary, charged with 4 offences;
- Sean Nesbitt, 44-year-old from Calgary, charged with 3 offences;
- William Whiteford, 39-year-old from Leduc County, charged with 20 offences; and
- Fouani Equity Funds Ltd. charged with 1 offence.
Fouani Equity Funds Ltd. is a Calgary-based investment company and was charged with laundering proceeds for an organized crime group.
Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.
ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.
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