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Leafs forward Nazem Kadri pleased to see jersey-throwers punished

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri picks up a Maple Leafs jersey on the ice after losing to the Washington Capitals in NHL hockey action in Toronto on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. Three spectators are facing fines and one-year bans from Air Canada Centre after throwing Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys on the ice in a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
January 20, 2015 - 3:47 PM

TORONTO - Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri hates losing just as much as Toronto's disgruntled fans but says there's no excuse for throwing jerseys on the ice.

"Other people are trying to enjoy the game as well . . . you've got to pay some sort of consequences especially when you're interrupting a game," he said Tuesday, a day after the Leafs were humiliated in a 4-1 home loss to the lowly Carolina Hurricanes.

Three spectators who tossed their sweaters in disgust Monday night are paying the consequences. Police said Tuesday they had been charged under the province's Trespass to Property Act and are facing fines as well as one-year bans from the Air Canada Centre for their actions.

"I guess that's a bit of a consolation," Kadri said following Toronto's practice. "You shouldn't be able to walk away scott-free from interrupting a venue."

Jerseys have been tossed on the ice on occasion throughout the season. But fans' frustration is mounting as Toronto has lost five straight and 13 of its last 16. One of the jersey-throwing incidents Monday night came during play, which was especially insulting to the players.

"It's frustrating, as players we're not happy about it either we hate to lose just as much as the fans," Kadri said. "One time throughout a season I think is probably enough but when it happens multiple times it gets a little disrespectful but there's not really much we can do about it now."

Other fans took a more conventional — and legal — approach to showing their displeasure, wearing a paper bag over their heads. Toronto is a dismal 1-6 since firing head coach Randy Carlyle and promoting assistant Peter Horachek for the remainder of the season and has scored just twice over its last five losses.

"There's the select few people who do that, I don't think it speaks for all of our fans," said defenceman Cody Franson. "This is a process we want to get through with our fans, we don't want an us against them mentality by any stretch.

"It's unfortunate that stuff happens but at the end of the day we're focused on what we're doing in here and trying to get back into the win column."

Horachek is offering his players simple advice regarding the latest jersey incident.

"I tell them all the time, 'Control what you can control, don't let other things distract or bother you,'" he said. "They may see it and say 'That's unfortunate,' or something but I'm not going to let it seep into the room.

"If I hear it I'm going to say, 'Listen, that's not something to worry about.' Our fans are very supportive, they're very good. There's a few people who do that and that's just the way it is."

Spectators are warned about interrupting play or entering the field or playing surface while at pro sports venues. Fans will often throw hats on the ice when a player scores a hat trick but the tossing of jerseys — which can cost as much as $300 depending on the quality — or other items is verboten.

"In the events that occurred last night, the investigators believed that the people should be given the fine and that's what occurred," said police spokesman David Hopkinson. "But in the future, this can easily result in a criminal charge."

Toronto (22-22-3) entered action Tuesday standing 10th in the Eastern Conference seven points behind the eighth-place Boston Bruins, who have a game in hand. The Leafs will get one last shot at snapping their losing streak prior to the all-star break Wednesday night when they visit the Ottawa Senators.

The contest is important to Ottawa, which is 11th in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Toronto with three games in hand.

Toronto finished last season losing eight straight in regulation and 13 of its final 16 games to miss the playoffs.

"It does feel a little similar," Kadri said. "But that being said, we've got a little more grace time here to pick selves up and get going in the right direction."

Under Carlyle the Leafs were more of an offensive team, at one point this season leading the NHL in scoring. But on many nights, Toronto goalies Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer were left to face 40-plus shots.

Toronto has concentrated more on defensive play with Horachek calling the shots, three times allowing opponents 21 or fewer shots on goal. However, the Leafs have slipped to 10th overall in scoring and been outscored 24-9 in their last seven games.

Horachek said Toronto often gets into trouble when it's outscored in the first period. On Monday night, Carolina scored twice in the first and again just 48 seconds into the second to chase Bernier, who had faced just 13 shots.

"We started to press," Horachek said. "There's a lot of talk about goals and so you start to cheat and we did that in the first period.

"These last five games they've scored in the first period . . . we've got to pay attention to either winning or tying first periods and putting ourselves in that position. The guys know there's a certain degree of urgency and we have to stick to the process of working hard defensively and offensively. We're not giving up offence, we're just paying more attention to the defensive side of the game."

Bernier isn't feeling extra pressure to perform because his club is struggling offensively.

"If you start worrying about other guys' problems . . . obviously you get frustrated and get off your game," he said. "As a goalie you just focus on your own game.

"It's funny because we're playing better defensively than we used to and we're just not getting points. We just have to stick to the program, stick to the process."

NOTES — Forward Tyler Bozak didn't practise Tuesday for personal reasons but Horachek said he'll play Wednesday in Ottawa . . . Toronto has called up forward Josh Leivo and defenceman Stuart Percy from the AHL Marlies.

— With files from Gregory Strong in Toronto

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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