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article imageOp-Ed: After all these years, Don Cherry still don't know hockey

By Marcus Hondro     May 4, 2012 in Sports
CBC commentator Don Cherry would seem to be a guy who knows the ins and outs of hockey. As a former pro player, a coach in the NHL and a hockey broadcaster, he's got the credentials. Which is why it seems strange that he'll so often get it all wrong.
The man's latest blunder was brandishing the phrase "politically correct" to describe what Nashville Predators GM David Poile did when he suspended Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for game 3 of their second round series against the Phoenix Coyotes. You'll recall the two Russian forwards broke curfew - and then some - and were seen out at 4 a.m. in Phoenix, only 12 or 13 hours before suiting up for game two of the series.
Don Cherry: Misses NHL mark
Cherry made that remark to Ron McLean on Coaches Corner this week, also saying that "you never bench your star players" in the playoffs, seemingly no matter what. He said the decision would not go well in the dressing room and could all but end the club's chances of winning the Stanley Cup. It's only been a game but already his words have been shown to be about as insightful as an Adam Sandler film.
Not only did the Predators get back in the series with a 2-0 win Wednesday night, they did it by getting back to playing the kind of tough defence, work-your-tail-off kind of hockey they're renown for. The team looked as cohesive - strike that, more cohesive - as they had been in the two previous games. There were no passengers on this one, which certainly Radulov was in game 2.
Most tellingly, Nashville coach Barry Trotz has now said that the two would not be in the line-up for game 4 Friday night; he's not bound by any decision from his GM this time, he's just bound by the desire to win the game. "The decision for me was pretty simple,” Trotz told the Tennessean. “The group that went in there was very committed and got the job done, plain and simple.”
Nashville Predators: Team first policy
Memo to Don Cherry: hockey, in the NHL, at any level, is a team game. You don't win by simply throwing a bunch of stars out there, just ask the New York Rangers of the past 10 years, it doesn't work that way and it never has, never will. To break a curfew, in particular so grievously, is not something that can be brushed aside. That is a team rule and a team effort wins championships, putting yourself above the team is a loser's game.
You know who seems to get that now? Along with countless others who play the game, from kids to the Ray Whitney's of the NHL, Alexander Radulov may finally get it. Trotz said he and Kostitsyn are fine with the decision and are keeping ready for when they're needed. Radulov himself said that this teammates "played well, so I think they made the right’s a hard situation, but I’ve been in that situation when I’m not playing. As long as we’re winning it’s fine.”
Don Cherry: Canadian icon
Cherry is like the boxer who leads with his chin, in his case he leads with his machismo; another example being his insistence refs should put their whistles away and "let the player's play!" That strategy eventually lead the NHL to the dead puck era, where clutching and grabbing, hooking and holding took over from passing, shooting and scoring to make the game as palatable as an Adam Sandler film. The boxer allows his ineptness to ruin his ability to fight, Cherry allows his prejudices to ruin his ability to analyze hockey.
He's made the wrong call before - calling Chris Nilan, Stu Grimson and Jim Thomson "pukes" and "turncoats" comes to mind - and he'll do so again. But it still jumps out because given all the years and involvement, and the fact that he's become a Canadian icon, it seems strange that Don Cherry don't know hockey.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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