Sour Grapes is a feature that will run weekly on Mondays to begin each week, offering a summary of another crazy week around the NHL from the perspective of none other than Donald S. Cherry, distilled and interpreted into plain English so NHL fans everywhere can come to appreciate the wisdom behind the ranting and raving of hockey’s greatest grizzled veteran. Watch the latest episode here.
After last week’s exciting end to Coach’s Corner it was no surprise the Don was uppity once again to start this weekend’s Saturday evening sermon off in style. Cherry’s grandfather passed down a snazzy Saddle blanket from the RCMP and had to show it off during his opening on Saturday. Not sure if Cherry demanded to show off his badge of honour for good Canadian kids everywhere, or if the producers at the CBC decided it would be a welcome alternative to staring at Cherry’s spaghetti-coloured suit.
Despite his now life-long membership to the exclusive ranks of old-school hockey heroes, Cherry couldn’t help but rain on Bruce Boudreau’s parade as the Washington Capitals’ Head Coach approaches 200 NHL wins, doing it faster than any other NHL coach.
Except for Cherry of course, who was cheated by NHL scoring back in the day, which must be the coaching equivalent to every wannabe NHLers favourite phrase. What, your junior hockey coach didn’t ruin your career too?
“He had 39 wins in OT and shootouts, I didn’t have that chance. My winning percentage in Boston was .658, so you know I’d win half of them.” Cherry whined over his lack of legitimate wins relative to Boudreau.
“I’m the fastest and will always be.” Fastest to recall your own statistics, that is.
Always one to defend the criticized, Cherry moved on to defend a number of goaltenders given a raw deal over the past week in the NHL. If there’s ever a goaltender undeserved of blame, close by will be Cherry, screaming at the top of his lungs about deflecting shots on your own net.
Like Cherry’s example in Jonas Gustavsson, Alex Auld had no chance on Henrik Sedin’s Sunday night goal and will have to speak with Jesse Winchester after the defender ruthlessly deflected Sedin’s shot past Auld.
After dealing with the rash of dumb deflections by defenceman, Cherry moved on the pump the tires of another goaltender facing mid-season adversity. The brash former Bruin was quick to question the toughness of the Buffalo Sabres after Milan Lucic ran Ryan Miller last week in a rare goaltending controversy caused outside of the crease.
“It’s a sad situation when you have the TV announcer (Rick Jeanneret) tougher than anybody on the team,” Cherry condemned the Sabres’ skaters, allowing Ron Maclean to lay out the landscape of today’s NHL.
“But Don, this is the new thing, they’re banking on the referees or Shanahan to put the doubt or fear into Lucic,” Maclean pointed out.
“They (referees) sure didn’t do it in the playoffs when Boston intimidated them; Thornton was the best player in Game Three (last year),” Cherry replied.
Can’t Beat Big Bad Bruins
Despite Cherry’s headstrong opinions regarding violence and strategy in the NHL, his summation of the league’s over and under-reactions to this year’s hot button issues is right on the mark. The big bad Bruins continue to play the way they have for years, and despite modern league legislation there’s little the rest of the NHL can do to stop it.
Whatever you think about Miller vs. Lucic, there is no denying the level of intimidation the Boston Bruins hold over the rest of the league. The big bad Bruins have been beating teams down for over a season now, and only the arrogant assholes from Vancouver have dared to do something about it.
Traditionally a protector of ‘the code’ (if it exists) and player respect in the NHL, Don Cherry’s omission of any mention of Mark Recchi was a predictable and sad response to needless name-calling by the veteran. Mark Recchi’s verbal assault on the Canucks this past week while on a Boston radio show stood as a sad reflection of today’s NHL landscape.
Brad Marchand punches who he wants, Milan Lucic hits who he wants, and now Mark Recchi can say whatever he wants, because the Boston Bruins play by their own rules, and god bless them for it. While arrogance may to be a poorly chosen adjective, the Canucks’ style of play in last year’s Stanley Cup Final is indirectly responsible for a considerable amount of controversy this season.
The precedent of punches over patience was set in last year’s final and the rest of the league is paying the price today, much to the delight of Don Cherry and Bruins fans everywhere. If NHL players won’t stand up to the Beantown Bullies, why should anyone else?
Henrik Sedin didn’t fight back against Brad Marchand, the Sabres (and Canucks) didn’t fight back Milan Lucic and the Bruins, and now even honourary members of the team are getting a pass in the media because of past performances.
While I’d love to drown on sour grapes and call last year’s Stanley Cup victory a sham, the opposite remains true. The Boston Bruins’ determination to push opponents, referees and the media past their comfort level has elevated the team above and beyond the competition, and it earned them a well-deserved Stanley Cup ring
How long will it take for other NHL teams to adopt their older brother’s tactics in order to do the same?
Filed Under: NHL
About the Author: Kevin Vanstone is a long time sports fan and Canucks die hard from White Rock, British Columbia. He is currently attending the University of Victoria pursuing a Writing degree, and in his spare time writes about all things Canucks hockey as well as news and notes from around the NHL.