Monday, March 14, 2005


Saturday Night with Don Cherry

I know it is Monday morning and not Saturday night, but I did want to point out an extremely interesting and entertaining article/interview with Don Cherry.

Saturday Night magazine, a publication up here in Canada, has a good feature on Don Cherry that delves more into a character that not many people really know a lot about.

Sure, people know or deride him as the hockey dinosaur with the loud suits and the loud mouth. Despite the fact that he’s made millions selling hockey videos, doing radio shows, and his weekly gig on Hockey Night in Canada, far too many people don’t take him seriously or don’t give him a lot of intellectual credit.

I would suggest you go read the piece, since it will be well worth your time.

Two interesting morsels I want to highlight:

1. With all of the fighting over money these days, here is how Don Cherry, a rookie coach, made himself an instant hero with his players.
Players then, as now, were given meal money when the team was away from home. But Cherry was in the habit, every morning at breakfast in the hotel, of...well, let him tell it:

"I'd go around and pick up their bills. In other words, they could save their per diems. One thing about hockey players you should realize, they're pretty cheap. And they thought it was the greatest thing they'd ever seen. It wasn't that much, but I'd pay for it personally, I wouldn't charge it to my room.…

"So one day [Bruins general manager] Harry Sinden was down at breakfast and saw what I was doing. And in front of the players, right there, he gave me shit. He said they could afford to pay for their own breakfast."
And after that?
"After that I made sure I kept paying their bills."
Which made him a hero?
"No, I was already a hero. After that I was a real hero." He laughs happily at the memory.
We often forget that the coaches are really caught in the middle in this dispute. On one hand, the coaches are hired and paid by management and work directly for management. However, the coaches need to maintain the respect of their players, they need to make sure they aren’t seen as management tools. If a certain were seen as too cozy with management, you can imagine how hard it would be for that coach to do his job and inspire his troops.

2. Don, on his knowledge of the game:
You know, I have to laugh," he says now, "when the pseudo-intellectual writers try to say what belongs in hockey and what doesn't — fighting, what have you — as though they know something that I don't know. Not that I'm saying there aren't people who don't know more about hockey than I do. A lot of people know a lot more about hockey than I do. I don't know the stats, I can't pronounce the names right, and other people can explain the technical aspects better than I can. But no one knows hockey better than me."

"What I see,"he says,"is what the people are feeling. The players, the coaches, the guy who runs the parking lot, everyone. That's why I notice things that sometimes other people don't.

The article goes further in explaining how Don ‘feels’ and ‘sees’ the game different than most people. As an armchair scout, I know I see things that many people don’t when at a game. Don just seems to be on another level than us when it comes to ‘feeling’ the game. For all of his ranting and raving, hockey people generally respect Cherry because he really ‘tells it like it is’. Don Cherry will often hit the nail on the head and it’s hard to disagree with his reasoning on many of the hockey-related rants he goes on. (Apart from the Anti-European stuff).

The Saturday Night piece also looks into Don’s love of history, books, and some of the political opinions that have caused so much controversy.


Extraleague Update:


Kladno 6 – Pardubice 3 (Pardubice leads series 3-2)

It’s been a really tough year for Jan Hrdina. First, he missed half the season thanks to a knee injury caused when a teammate ‘playfully’ tripped him during practice. When he was in the lineup, Hrdina wasn’t having any luck offensively – He finished with 4 goals and 3 assists in 23 games.
It must feel good for him that he was able to have a career night with a goal and two assists as Kladno avoided the golf course for another day. Jan now has 3 goals and 3 assists in 5 playoff games.

Slavia 7 – Liberec 2 (Slavia leads series 3-2)
Someone better call Greenpeace, because the White Tigers are now endangered thanks to a rather nasty spanking from Slavia. Josef Stumpel had a hat-trick and an assist, and his new linemate, Josef Vasicek, had 3 assists as 10,363 spectators went home happy.

That’s right...Josef Stumpel had a hat-trick. It’s amazing he even had 3 shots in a single game, much less 3 goals.
(Welcome to the Hades Weather Network! Today’s Forecast: Snow!)


The semi-final matchups are now set as the Top 4 favourites cruised through the first round as expected. It’s too bad the games don’t start for another 6 days…way to kill momentum!

Trencin 7 – Zilina 1
Zilina won the first game of the series, but that just seemed to spark Trencin and piss them off. Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik each had 1 goal and 2 assists as Dukla swept aside Zilina like the financial section of yesterday’s newspaper.

(Josef Stumpel had a hat-trick??!?!)

Kosice 7 – Nitra 4
Over in Kosice, it was 80s Night as the teams decided to engage in an end-to-end-to-end shootout. Jiri Bicek had 2 assists while the dissappointing Martin Cibak went pointless.

Don's a hero to many people who think that believing in what you're talking about and staying true to your convictions.
I wish I got a chance to read the whole article.
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