Nazem Kadri acknowledges Mike Babcock's behavior wasn't always ideal.
The Colorado Avalanche forward didn't say no when asked if some of his former bench boss' tactics to get the best out of players crossed a line.
"Sometimes," Kadri told the assembled media, including Sportsnet, after Colorado's morning skate in Toronto ahead of the center's highly anticipated return.
"I think Babs is a good coach. I just ... sometimes his methods, I think, weren't the greatest. That's just the fine line between players and coaches. I think as a coach, you've got to take that responsibility to kind of have your players' backs, and that's when you get the best out of them."
The Maple Leafs fired Babcock on Nov. 20 after suffering their sixth consecutive loss the night before.
Less than a week later, the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan reported Babcock had shamed a rookie in 2016-17 by asking him to rank his teammates by work ethic and then sharing the list with the team. The Athletic's Ian Tulloch later reported the rookie was Mitch Marner.
On Monday, former NHLers Chris Chelios and Johan Franzen came forward with unflattering accounts of Babcock's tactics during his tenure with the Detroit Red Wings.
Akim Aliu had a positive outlook following a meeting at the NHL offices in New York on Tuesday.
"I want to thank everyone for their support. It obviously means a lot to me," the former player said, according to TSN's Matthew Scianitti. "It's been a tough week, but we had some great discussions with (NHL commissioner) Gary (Bettman) and (deputy commissioner) Bill (Daly). They couldn't have been kinder and receptive to the message we're trying to bring."
He added, "I think there is some big change coming. It's long overdue, and I'm excited to see it come to fruition."
The 30-year-old also expressed his optimism on Twitter.
Bettman and Daly shared Aliu's sentiment, releasing a joint statement that described Tuesday's meeting as a "productive and candid conversation" that is "part of a broader, thorough review and process that the league is undertaking."
The league won't comment further until after the Board of Governors meetings next Monday and Tuesday.
On Nov. 25, Aliu tweeted that now-former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters repeatedly directed the N-word toward him regarding the player's choice of music while the two were with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs in 2009-10.
The next day, two of Aliu's former teammates corroborated his more detailed account of the incident. Peters then acknowledged using "offensive language" and said he had apologized to the IceHogs at the time.
However, Aliu called Peters' apology "misleading, insincere, and concerning," adding that Peters had never apologized prior to last week.
Peters resigned last Friday after the Flames opened an investigation into the matter.
The New Jersey Devils have dismissed head coach John Hynes and named Alain Nasreddine interim bench boss, the club announced Tuesday.
The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Devils 7-1 on Monday night, dropping New Jersey's record to 9-13-4 ahead of Tuesday's game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Hynes was in his fifth season behind New Jersey's bench. During that span, the Devils went 150-159-45 and missed the playoffs in all but one campaign, in which the Tampa Bay Lightning knocked them out of the first round in five games.
The Winnipeg Jets' shorthanded defense corps will now be tested even further.
Head coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday that Dmitry Kulikov will be out "until around the All-Star break" with the injury he suffered during Friday night's win over the Anaheim Ducks. This year's All-Star weekend takes place Jan. 24 and 25 in St. Louis.