Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins responded to a series of comments made by Don Cherry on Twitter Tuesday afternoon by inviting him for a visit.
Eakins had come under scrutiny from the Coach’s Corner host after telling reporters that Marlies centre Nazem Kadri had reported to camp out of shape.
The 21-year-old prospect had spent the past summer working out with conditioning expert and ex-Leaf Gary Roberts.
Eakins, who has been coach of the Marlies since August of 2009, implored Cherry to own up to his statements. The popular commentator had also levied his criticism towards the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.
“I invite Don to come down here and sit in my office and hey, let’s talk about where we’re at with our players,” Eakins said Wednesday.
“I’ve never ever seen him at one of our games, I’ve never ever seen him at a practice and he’s never come in and knocked on my door.”
Eakins said that he was a fan of the charismatic host, and extended his invitation further.
“So I invite Don to come on down here — you’re more than welcome at any time, you’ve got a lot of fans here and we’d be honoured to have him.”
Cherry posted a four-part tirade on the popular social networking site, lambasting the Maple Leafs’ treatment of the prospect.
“I have never in my life seen a kid treated like Nazem Kadri by the Leafs,” tweeted Cherry.
The Hockey Night in Canada star then targeted Eakins particularly.
“Marlie coach comes out and rips Kadri in the newspaper saying he doesn’t eat properly. Imagine headlines saying he’s chubby and fatso.
“If anyone wants to get a blue print on how to destroy someone, just follow the Toronto Maple Leafs,” said Cherry.
Kadri played primarily under Eakins last season with the Marlies, compiling 40 points in 48 regular season contests, while notching 10 points in 11 playoff games.
Toronto took Kadri in the first round of the NHL entry draft in 2009, but the London native has found it difficult to maintain a spot in the big club’s lineup.
A star with the London Knights (OHL) Kadri has been prone to defensive lapses at the professional level, a habit that he must cut out if he is to stay with the Maple Leafs in the immediate future.
Kadri responded to the controversy on Friday.
“I’m still a young guy, I’m slowly learning how to be a pro and what types of food to put in my body,” Kadri told the Toronto Star.
Toronto begins its preseason against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday, in Cobourg, ON.