Report: Kadri reveals which teammate has had the biggest influence on his career

This is unexpected.

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Toronto Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri has had a tumultuous ride to where he's gotten at this point in his career. As The Athletic's Jonas Siegel says, he is probably one of the team's most reliable players on both ends of the ice.

His career didn't start that way, though.

He wasn't always the defensively responsible player that he is now, often being labelled as an inconsistent player who couldn't be trusted to play both ends of the ice. A typical comment that ends a player's career in the middle position. Just look at Alex Galchenyuk for the Montreal Canadiens - he was drafted as a centre but has been buried on the wing due to his defensive inconsistencies.

However, Kadri turned things around throughout his career, and credits one of his former teammates for his growth as a player and individual.

And it might not be who you expect.

Siegel asked Kadri in an exclusive Q&A with The Athletic which teammate had the biggest impact on his career, and here was his response.

"I think probably Dion (Phaneuf). I think Dion is a good pick because I felt like he was a good leader, taught me a lot about how to play in the league and how to deal with a big market and bright lights. So yeah, I like him."

He added that "I think he was a great team guy — I think very misunderstood as far as people who didn't really know him personally went. He was a great teammate for me."

Misunderstood is probably a good word to describe how Phaneuf was perceived during his time in Toronto. People focused on his on-ice performance, rightfully so - but didn't see the intangibles he brought in the locker room. If Kadri's development into one of the league's better two-way centres is a result of Phaneuf's mentorship - that's no laughing matter.

And it certainly sheds a new light on Phaneuf's impact during his tenure with Toronto.