On Sunday night after the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, the Cup passed through the hands of every Avalanche player, Nazem Kadri hoisted the Cup high up in the air, circling around the ice until handling it to the next Avalanche winner. After all the buzz quieted down at the Amalie Arena, a small pack of fans filtered out where Kadri’s family stood in excitement to congratulate their son.
Both his parents huddled together and embraced him warmly as their congratulatory message was delivered to Nadri by their gestures. Back at home in Ontario, countless households throughout the province watched on with a joy of disbelief. It wasn’t just because the Avalanche won its first Cup since 2001, but because it was the first time in NHL history a Muslim player had won the Stanley Cup and would have his name etched on it.
Muslim hockey community proud of Nazem Kadri’s accomplishments
Back at home, Omar Essawi who’s part of the Muslim ball hockey league, spent his last few seconds with eyes glued to the TV, while his phone rang frantically with messages. He said, “Oh, man”. “Whether it was the I-Slam [group chat] or another hockey group with some Muslims that I play with on the weekend, we were all just kind of anticipating, all just counting down the end of the game.”
The same story repeated with Humaira Sedu founder of Toronto’s Muslimah Athletic Club, who noted, “I was counting down. I was like, ‘30 seconds, 20 seconds, 15”. “My brother had just come home — he was walking in the door and I’m yelling at him, counting down the numbers, like, ‘They’re doing it! They’re doing it!’”
As penned on sportsnet.ca, Muhammad Hafajee, part of the Scarborough Muslim Ball Hockey Association commented, “I’m so proud. … As a Muslim, a South Asian, we don’t have that many role models in sports. Especially when hockey is not very diverse.”
“Even if you look at the Colorado Avalanche and the Lightning, there’s not much diversity there. You can see all the players, for the most part, they look the same. To see Naz up there, you could tell, ‘Hey, he’s one of us. He’s one of our guys.’ I felt honoured.”
Nazem Kadri’s father Samir Kadri told Sportsnet’s Luke Fox on Sunday, “We’re Canadians at heart, first and foremost — and we’re proud to be Muslim Canadians”. “I think it’s gonna do a lot for the younger generations.” “It means everything. I never forget where I came from, never forget my roots.”