Don Cherry confused me, Episode II

Welcome to ‘Don Cherry confused me’, a new Sunday-morning feature that will chronicle the silly things that Don Cherry says the night before on Coach’s Corner. The feature will focus on Cherry’s out-dated focus on the game and attempt to get him to understand that things happen in hockey a little bit differently than he remembers them.

Episode Two: Blame the System!

“A lot of people think ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ that hangover or whatever they’ve called it. I’ve done it twice. And you know what happens? When you have the Montreal Canadiens in the 70s, they could go win the Cup and then go cruise because they were so talented. The Bruins were a team with a bunch of grinders that every guy overachieved.”

Tough to disagree. The Bruins did a lot of overachieving last year. They had a run behind the best statistical season from a goalie in the history of hockey, and it still took them three Game Sevens to get the job done. Now, I think that the Bruins are an alright team with some pretty good players, but Cup Hangover or not, this is something that you can’t repeat. The best thing I can say about the Bruins skaters is that they’re better than the 1999 Buffalo Sabres.

Also, notice how Cherry throws out that he won two Stanley Cups in there back in the 70s, right before also adding that the hated Montreal Canadiens kept dominating him.

“You do not come to camp with the same mindset. All they have to do, the Bruins, is get in the playoffs and they’ll get that back again.”

Yes, continue riding the percentages, Boston. And when you’re on the opposite side of the percentages, it must have something to do with the mindset.

“All right now watch this here, watch the kid [Ryan Murphy]. Now he’s smarter than this. This guy, *laughs* when that [OHL Commissioner] gets through with this Kuhnhackl, that’s the guy that hit him, but you know what, I’m going to tell him why that happened. I’ll tell you why it happened.”

Oh, please do, Don. From my angle it looked like the Kuhnhackl guy (whose name is Tom) took advantage of a player who was in a vulnerable position and delivered a real scary check. But I’m not sure.

(If you haven’t seen the hit, there’s a video here)

“He’s a smart guy, and he always has his head up all the time, but what happens in junior hockey and everything now, there’s so little hitting, the guys get careless.”

So there’s so much cheap hitting in hockey because there isn’t enough hitting in hockey.

This is a point that I can actually agree with Cherry on, but probably for different reasons. There are certain checks that are designed specifically to separate an opponent from the puck, and those need to be taught at a young level. But hits like Kuhnhackl’s, that exist just to deliver pain to another player, all they exist for is to eventually end the careers of prospects.

“Then you get a guy like Kuhnhackl, it’s too juicy, and that’s how you get concussions. In the minor-midget games I’m going to now, there is absolutely no contact at all.”

I’m not sure if you noticed, but when the clip of the video was rolling, Cherry was laughing at the hit. I wonder if he was also laughing at Murphy when he was motionless on the ice.

But Cherry blames the system. He blames Murphy for putting himself in position for the hit. At no point does he blame Kuhnhackl for blasting Murphy high in a vulnerable area. The onus of an illegal check is on the guy making the check.

Cherry then furthered his point about guys keeping their head down by showing Mike Fisher getting clipped by Grapes’ boy François Beauchemin. Fisher played in Sudbury for two years in 1998 and 99, so I’m guessing he had a lot of exposure to hockey before its pansification and probably knows to keep his head up. You can’t blame the victim on collisions.

“Kyle Wellwood is leading the team, he’s got what? Five goals? He’s got the highest percentage of shooting in the National Hockey League, he’s making $700K.”

I like Kyle Wellwood and he’s looked real good in Winnipeg so far, but shooting percentage is not a good indicator of how a player has shot. It’s an indicator of how lucky a player has gotten, in most cases. Any shooting percentage over about 13% should really raise some red flags as those aren’t numbers that are usually sustainable, I don’t care what the player.

By the way, Wellwood (38.5% shooting) doesn’t even lead the league in shooting percentage. That honour belongs to Mike Rupp and Colton Orr, who have a single goal on a single shot each. Tie for third to Nate Guenin, Zenon Konopka, Bruno Gervais, Mark Flood and Joey Crabb, each with 50%. Shooting percentage is not really the best indicator of whose a real good hockey player.

What Cherry SHOULD have said is “now look at this Wellwood boy I tell you, nobody gave him a chance except Winnipeg. He led the league in zone-start adjusted Corsi last year and nobody gave him a chance, he comes into Winnipeg, he plays tough competition and he’s winning possession battles. The puck is always at the other side of the ice when Wellwood’s on the ice, and that’s no coincidence, kids!”

*thumbs up*