Don Cherry confused me, Episode III

Welcome to ‘Don Cherry confused me’, a Sunday-morning feature that will chronicle the silly things that Don Cherry says the night before on Coach’s Corner. The feature will focus on Cherry’s out-dated focus on the game and attempt to get him to understand that things happen in hockey a little bit differently than he remembers them.

Episode Three: Who are you going to war with?

 “The worst you can do is get your star player killing penalties” 

This is in reference to Tim Connolly, one of Don Cherry’s favourites, getting injured blocking a shot on a penalty kill, presumably. Other situations wherein Connolly has gotten hurt: Even strength, powerplay, penalty shots, time outs, and team dinners.

Either way, Phil Kessel doesn’t kill penalties. The Vancouver Canucks last season, who had the top penalty kill until the final day on the season, had Cherry’s boys Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis on the ice suck up time, and quite arguably their best player Ryan Kesler kill a bunch too. Some players are befit to a PK role, whether good defensively or not. It’s not like Connolly was sucking up minutes in Toronto—He’s 1:04 PK time per game so far this season, or fifth most on the team among forwards.

“You know who you put on killing penalties? Your third and fourth guys. Zigomanis. They will try the janitor before they try Zigomanis. When Zigomanis was here they were #1 and they were 4-0!”

I can’t really complain here. I’ve gone on record as saying that Mike Zigomanis would be a much better defensive centre option than, say, Philippe Dupuis, the guy the Leafs have decided to use this year. Although when I agree with Cherry, it’s usually just coincidence, and we usually do for completely different reasons.

“I used to have in Boston Bruins the third and fourth guy, they were willing to kill penalties.”


In 1979, the Boston Bruins had the 14th best penalty kill in the league. That was also Cherry’s last season with the team. The next season, the Grapes-less Bruins went 2nd best in the PK, presumably with the good players that Cherry mis-cast, while Cherry’s Colorado Rockies were 11th, below league average.

So I’m not sure what makes Don Cherry some sort of expert on the penalty kill. He was a coach who had Hall of Fame players in John Bucyk, Jean Ratelle, Brad Park, Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr and didn’t manage to win a Cup, so I’m not sure what makes him any sort of Coaching authority ever, either.

“Now the guys that aren’t pretenders, the guys I love, Tanner Glass, right off the bat, he’s from Regina…”

He’s from Regina, which is in Canada, thereby superior. 

“You’ll go to war with these guys.”

Well sure, but having watched Tanner Glass for two years in Vancouver, I’m not sure I’d like to play hockey with him.

Also, this is the first of many military references that Cherry drops in this episode.

“And look he fights, and I think he got a Gordie Howe hat-trick. A fight, a goal, an assist.”

 A fight, a goal, and an assist, in that order of importance.

“When we landed, we were the number one of all the countries, we were the only one, we were the first one to establish the beach end, we were so far into France they told us to stop, we were volunteers, ours our the best, just like they are in Afghanistan!”

 It’s not often that I really think I need the History Channel to cross-reference what Cherry is saying.

“A beauty! Eric Nystrom! These are the guys you go to war with! Look at that! Love these guys! I don’t get why Calgary ever let him go. Don’t understand that.”

I think our own overlord Kent Wilson explained that quite well in this Flames Nation bit, calling Nystrom “extremely limited” and “When he was actually placed in the uneviable position of being an honest-to-god checking forward playing tough compeition in difficult circumstances by Minnesota last year, he got his head beat in.”

“[in a montage of Ryan Wilson hits] That one he’d probably get suspended for. Get 20 games or something like that.”

Yeah, pft. These new guys in charge hate hitting. They don’t know what it’s like to play in the NHL.

Also, considering he was mostly showing hits from a 24-year old that were delivered either this year or last, and Wilson has never been suspended, I think that suggesting that he might get 20 games for any of these hits is just straight pretend outrage at this point.

“We gotta show a blocked shot and a goal by Teddy Peckham.”


“When I’m at the trench, this is the guy I want, and oho! That one got him, hehe, right on the thigh!”

 You’d go to war with Teddy Peckham, that’s for sure.

“Shake it off Teddy, get out there! And now he gets a nice goal. Beautiful. Guys you go to war with they’re just as good as our troops first and second wars and all the way in Afghanistan, waytago Teddy!”

“Look at this deflection waytago! Just like the troops!” 

“Remember in Montreal, Sheldon [Souray] always stuck up for everyone all the time, remember he did it for Sacko Koyvoy and then he goes to Edmonton and I don’t know what happened, they sent him down to Hershey…”

 I wonder if Sacko Koyvoy ever sent Souray a thank-you note.

“He’s had a tough year for two years in a row.”

 He had two years worth of tough years rolled into one tough year.

“I’ll tell you something, he’s the number one… and look at him right here. And he fights, this guy.”


“He’s the number one defenseman in the league, you say ‘no’, I say ‘yeah’.”

I won’t really argue this one. The part about me saying “no”, to be specific. I will argue the idea that Sheldon Souray is the number one defenseman in the league, and I will also sort of cringe, and wonder what other NHL secrets are being held in Don Cherry’s hyperbolic chamber.

“Four goals, eight assists, he’s got a game-winner, a shorthanded goal, but get this! He leads all defensemen in +10! +10! And then he’s tied, oh, no! +11! Excuse me, he’s tied with two forwards for best in the league! And he’s only making a million and six.”

Doesn’t Cherry hate statistics?

Sheldon Souray has had a pretty good comeback year. He’s 50th among defensemen in Relative Corsi (10 game minimum), but I’d say that Cherry’s opinion of him is based more off of his 104.6% PDO, which is 16th among defensemen. So while his play has been there (and I certainly didn’t like the way Edmonton handled him) his production has thus far been better than his performance.

“Joe Nieuwendyk got him for nothing! Absolutely got him for nothing!”

So Joe Nieuwendyk essentially got Sheldon Souray for what he gave up Brad Richards for. Richards is another one of Cherry’s favourites, but so is Nieuwendyk, and I think Don is more likely to overlook that his old pal Joe failed to trade Richards at the trade deadline for even anything, even knowing he’d lose him to free agency.

Remember, Dallas was “hot” at the start of last season too and collapsed down the stretch when the percentages caught up with them. They didn’t change much in the offseason, and it’s pretty much just a few guys producing way more than they deserve (such as Eric Nystrom).

*thumbs up*

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  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Pretty good blog and pretty accurate. Cherry lost his relevance and sitting up there with the simpering head bobbing doting old fool Maclean….they are truly a comedy team instead of a sports team.

  • RexLibris

    I actually laughed out loud at the “hyperbolic chamber” crack. Very good. If anyone has it, it’s Cherry. Or maybe Pierre Maguire.

    I hope Cherry isn’t looking forward to showing highlight reels of Theo “Teddy” Peckham for every goal, otherwise he’ll have some long waits ahead of him.

    I have to chime in on the Souray thing: I can see why people would say that they didn’t like the way the Oilers handled him, but at the same time it isn’t like he was dealing all that well with the organization. Obviously I’m biased as an Oilers fan, but if I look at it as objectively as I can, Tambellini tried to trade him when he was injured and no one was interested. He tried to move him via waiver, which would have actually meant we’d be paying him to play for someone else, and again, nobody would have him at that price point. Tambellini sent him through recallable waivers twice and no one stepped up. Souray is partially responsible because he became another facet of the problems that plagued that dressing room and his behaviour was considered to be bad enough as a model that he wasn’t even wanted on our farm team. Rather than work things out with his agent and GM he lost patience and smeared the entire organization. If he had done it to any other franchise I can’t see their GM or fans handling it differently.

    Yeah, he’s playing great this year, and I’m glad for that. His reputation got a kick in the bits last year and he deserves another chance, but just like Jerome Messam on the Esks, he has to prove that he is better than his reputation thus far.