It all started as a comment about the Toronto Maple Leafs firing Ron Wilson as their coach after losing 11 straight games with the playoffs only 18 games away. It ended up leading to a rant between commentator Don Cherry of CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) HNIC (Hockey Night in Canada)
and Brian Burke (Leafs President and General Manager.) They have had an ongoing feud since the beginning of the season, and Saturday, it hit the fan, with Cherry. He was throwing papers off the table and flustered throughout the Coaches Corner segment between periods. (ABOVE)
He made reference to the fact that Toronto has no Ontario-born players and yet nearly every team playing against Toronto, has about five Ontario-born players. (that’s an average) Cherry shied away from saying Toronto has four European players. (Why did Cherry leave that out?) The rest are from Western Canada and the USA. Cherry said on Coaches Corner, “Every team in the National Hockey League has a guy from Ontario except one — it’s Ontario’s Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Here’s a prime example of Cherrys’ angst, Nazem Kadri
who is currently one of the leading players on the Maple Leafs farm team in the AHL (American Hockey League,) Toronto Marlies, played for the Leafs several times this year but kept being sent back to the farm team. He was even selected to play in the AHL All-Star game, but was with the Leafs at the time, and declined, he has scored 17 goals, and 24 assists this year with the Marlies. The biggest thing holding him back from the big leagues, appears to be he is from the Toronto area, but born in London, Ontario.
He went on to say, “There’s 40,000 kids in the GTHL (Greater Toronto Hockey League)
– Seguin, Skinner, Spezza — they all come from the GTHL. This guy (Burke) has none. He has all Americans, (actually eight Americans) he has American college guys who play for him right now and I could go on and on.”
Cherry figures that Burke went to his bosses at CBC, to try and have him fired, here’s what he had to say, “Here’s what kills me — Burke goes to my bosses and says I’m a bad guy and I said something ‘vicious’ about his coach, two weeks later he fires him. Figure that one out, folks.”
Cherry has never been one to hide his feelings or his opinions and last night was no exception. He didn’t even get enough time to really say what he meant, but his comments were well received by many Ontario players coming through the system and ones from Ontario, that are already in the NHL. Cherry has never understood why Ontario-born players don’t make it to the Maple Leafs but many do graduate to the NHL and when they come to Toronto to play, they play extra hard to make an impression.
For instance, Boston and St. Louis have nine Ontario-born players on the roster, but GM Burke says, “I don’t restrict the scouts to what area to pick the players from.”
Maybe he could suggest that they do a little scouting from the Ontario area, because it seems other NHL teams are doing that right now, big time.
Coaches Corner with Don Cherry March 3/2012.
Story on Cherrys’ rants
Oh yea, by the way the Leafs finally ended their losing streak, beating Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Montreal Saturday night, with their new coach Randy Carlyle.
Coaches Corner with Don Cherry March 3/2012