Cherry’s still tops in my book

I’m no longer a fan of Don Cherry, but more often than not I can understand where the old guy is coming from.
Sure, if he was some nobody trying to break into broadcasting, he’d probably be told by his first employer to find a different day job—and that would be the polite way of saying he has little comprehension of the English language.
But to be fair, I’ll be happy if I can dress myself at his age let alone be able to offer candid commentary on the current NHL landscape.
I also know it’s hard to feel for a guy who collects a fortune from the CBC (i.e., taxpayers), but the genuine hate often directed towards him from sportswriters and “political groups” is about as unnecessary and prejudiced as Cherry himself is towards European NHL players.
Compared to many of Cherry’s “Coach’s Corner” segments, the last two actually were quite coherent and brought forth some semi-valid arguments.
This past Saturday, Cherry opened the show by saying “a lot of people would like to see me die,” in reference to some negative feedback to his previous week’s show, then later referred to Olli Jokinen as “one of my favourite Russians or whatever he is” (he’s Finnish, but who’s counting).
Anyway, much of this past Saturday’s discussion was a retort to some public outcry from two Saturday’s ago, when Cherry criticized Alexander Ovechkin for his excessive celebrations after scoring goals and his propensity to leave his feet when landing body checks.
Ask yourself this: Would you prefer seeing your son jump into the glass in celebration and then skate past the visitors’ bench gloating all the way, or would you just be happy to see him raise his hands in celebration and share the moment with his teammates in a celebratory hug?
“I am predicting somebody’s going to get him, and somebody’s going to get him good,” Cherry claimed during that segment. “There’s somebody out there . . . some big defenceman is going to be sitting in the weeds as he cuts across centre ice.
“Somebody’s going to cut him in half.”
Ovechkin, indeed, does skate half the rink’s length, and often leaves his feet on hits that would warrant a penalty for another player but instead are considered highlight-reel material when he does it. There’s no doubt he gets special treatment because he is a superstar and an ambassador of the league—and that’s just reality.
And like much of what Cherry discusses, his argument again was aimed at cautioning “you Canadian kids out there” that showboating can come back to haunt you. He wasn’t suggesting someone should take a cheap shot at him, but rather warned those antics eventually will come back to bite the Russian superstar.
Karma has a way of doing that, and I don’t think Cherry was off-base in his assessment.
Another point Cherry made circled back to his age-old European prejudice when he claimed much of the reason for the Detroit Red Wings’ struggles at the gate lately was due, in large part, to their lack of North American-bred stars.
“Who wants to go? They want [Joey] Kocur, [Bob] Probert,” Cherry stressed.
He did back that statement with the assertion that much of the markets’ other sports team—the Lions, Pistons, and Tigers—still were selling out.
“Don’t give me, ‘It’s the economy,’” Cherry added.
I think Cherry may be half-right here, considering there’s a good many big-wig execs in the U.S. and here in the Great White North with some definite prejudice toward European players, and they are the ones who are buying tickets.
But sorry Don, the economy is the main reason. Just because you still are making the big bucks for your five-minute bit each week doesn’t mean thousands of Michigan residents aren’t feeling the pinch in this recession.
The auto industry is in shambles and that has a direct correlation to Michigan’s financial standing. And let’s remember the Red Wings had a sell-out streak which lasted nearly 11 seasons before coming to a close in April, 2007 (about the time you-know-what began to hit the fan).
The streak began well after both your buddies, Kocur and Probert, had last donned the winged-wheel jersey, so it’s tough to agree with Cherry here.
I love that Cherry isn’t afraid to step on toes in order to stand up for what he believes in, but too often he ignores the facts in the process.
Maybe those technicolour suits he’s famous for are blinding him from reality, but I don’t think he deserves this pack mentality many reporters have against him, either.
• • •
So who tuned in for all nine hours of the wall-to-wall NHL “TradeCentre” coverage on either TSN or Sportsnet last Wednesday?
Talk about TV hyperbole!
It all started with an army of analysts getting off a bus and it ended with a flurry of trade activity. Too bad the eight hours in between featured banter about practically nothing.
“Welcome to TradeCentre 2K9. We expect plenty of activity, but even if it’s quiet, it will take us until 2:30 to introduce all the commentators,” TSN host James Duthie said in leading off the show.
It took two hours before they had their first trade to break, and one of the earlier discussions of interest was talk of the Buffalo Sabres’ Tim Connolly leaving the team’s practice facility, speculating a trade was on the horizon.
Only until it was discovered that the team’s practice that day was optional and he had gone for lunch.
This led into a discussion of where he may have been going for lunch and how a new contract (which he signed later in the day) would mean a significant upgrade in dining the next time around.
Riveting television to say the least.
More than 1.5 million Canadians tuned in at some point during TSN’s 10 hours of coverage, and TSN.ca recorded its busiest day of all time with 15.8 million page views. Talk about fooling the masses!
Thankfully, I wasn’t sucked in for much of it as my uncle was busy orchestrating trades of his own with e-mail updates to me live—and he nearly pulled off the blockbuster of the day.
He had a deal on the table that would have sent my aunt, an old lawn tractor, and a square stern canoe for an undisclosed third-rounder, an open two-four, and a Tim Hortons gift card, but his wife invoked her “no trade” clause.
The short-term gain would have been nice, but in the long run he’s probably better off with the canoe . . . I mean wife, yes, of course.
There’s always next year.

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