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Kadri's suspension puts Maple Leafs in even bigger hole at centre

Friday, 11.15.2013 / 1:05 PM The Canadian Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Nazem Kadri was surprised to be suspended for three games for elbowing Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom in the head, but the Toronto Maple Leafs forward understands where the NHL was coming from.

Kadri expected a fine or perhaps a one-game ban for his actions Wednesday night at Minnesota. Instead he'll miss Toronto's next three games, leaving them without their top three centres after previous injuries to Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland.

The Leafs have called up centre Trevor Smith from the Toronto Marlies. He was dropped off in Buffalo late Thursday night as the AHL team travelled home from a game in Cleveland.

Smith is expected to centre the third line against the Sabres on Friday night. The Leafs also announced that defenceman John-Michael Liles has been assigned to the Marlies.

Being without his top three centres is a new piece of adversity for coach Randy Carlyle, who was already forced to move winger James van Riemsdyk to the middle for the past three games.

The Sabres won't be feeling bad for the Leafs, however, as they play their first game under a new regime led by president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine. Interim coach Ted Nolan will be behind the bench for Buffalo for the first time since 1997.

Nolan said he hasn't even memorized his players' names yet and predicted plenty of line-juggling against the Leafs.

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