Cherry Backs Canadians

By: Christian Gennara

Photo by Dave O.

Don Cherry said what?

The March 3rd edition of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada left the Twitterverse ablaze minutes after the first intermission programme.  It turns out that while Don Cherry may be old, 78 in fact, and potentially senile, his rant on Saturday night may prove he might actually have a point.

Allow me to set the stage for you.

Don Cherry, a former head coach of the Boston Bruins, and television personality for CBC, is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.  Like any member of the Leafs Nation, he shares the same elation when two points are earned, the same heartache when the team loses, and the same frustration when the playoffs continue to be a distant dream.

With the obvious power he holds (being in front of a camera for an entire country to watch), Cherry is able to voice his concerns for the team like few can.  He has always exercised his right to be critical of a franchise that, in the last seven years since the lockout, has employed four head coaches and 11 starting goalies, without a single post-season appearance.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are currently living in the most losingest period in the 95-year history of the Toronto organization.

But I digress.

Former head coach Ron Wilson has always been a topic of Cherry’s discussion.  Cherry has never seen eye-to-eye with Wilson and General Manager Brian Burke, publicly criticizing their handling of players, and lack of implementing a steady defensive system.  Anyone who follows hockey knows Burke doesn’t a passive attitude.  Burke has exploited the media to respond to Cherry’s criticisms, reportedly setting up a meeting with the CBC brass to complain about the CBC star.

Don Cherry responded Saturday night. Things got personal.

Cherry questioned the lack of Ontarians playing for Toronto, the province’s capital.  It was never a point I had ever thought about before.  So I picked up my smart phone and searched the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, only to find that 10 out of the 22 players are Canadian – there are none from Ontario, the only team in the NHL without an Ontarian on its roster.  Eight are American.

Cherry accused Burke of assembling an American-centric team because of his American citizenship.  Cherry attributes the Leafs’ woes in recent years to its lack of scouting talent “in their own backyard.”

Instead, Burke has shifted focus to finding players in the American college ranks.  Cherry complained: “Not having one guy from Ontario, that’s a crime.”

A quick paraphrase would suggest Cherry is telling Burke that he is robbing Leafs Nation of a chance to celebrate a Stanley Cup championship because Americans are just not as good.  Harsh, eh?

Cherry is as patriotic as they come, believing the recipe for success in the NHL is to roster as many Canadian players as possible.  After all, we did capture Olympic gold in 2002 and 2010, both times against our friends south of the border.

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