Don Cherry Puts Mike Gillis, Sedin Twins on Blast

On Wednesday night, during the Coaches Corner segment in the first intermission of CBC’s broadcast of Pittsburgh’s dismantling of the Ottawa Senaotrs, the always colourful and confusing Don Cherry addressed Alain Vigneault’s recent dismissal. Needless to say, Grapes’s assessment of the playoff performances of the Sedin twins and the management skills of Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis wasn’t altogether charitable. 

We’ve embedded the video above for your viewing pleasure, or you can watch it over at the CBC’s website. Alternatively, you can click past the jump where we’ve transcribed Cherry’s comments and also parsed his arguments because that’s how we do.

Here are Don Cherry’s comments on the firing of Alain Vigneault, Newell Brown and Rick Bowness, which I’ve transcribed verbatim: 

"Now let me tell you about this: three good guys thrown under the bus. Uh… Neville Brown, isn’t it? (Ron MacLean interjection: "Newell") Newell Brown, Rick Bowness and Vigneault – I just learned how to do his (Vigneault’s) name, and he gets fired!

Think about this folks, these guys get fired, let’s lay the cards on the table – what they’ve done over the years – Sedin twins, and I hate to say it, but the Sedin twins in the seven games they played they got two goals they were minus. So far in the playoffs this year: no goals, they were minus-12.

He is the guy who kept them around, he’s the guy – the General Manager – is the guy who had the controversy with the goaltenders and got through it… and three good guys go down the drain for him.

As far as I’m concerned the General Manager threw three good guys down the drain. His fault all the way."

Okay so there’s a good deal for us to unpack here. Let’s start with the Sedin twins, I suppose, who Mike GIllis made the critical mistake of keeping around following the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Final. Since that series, Henrik and Daniel Sedin have combined to play 249 games, racking up 233 points and 67 goals in the regular season. In the postseason they’ve played 15 games compiling 13 points and two goals. The twins also just turned in their most impressive two-way campaign this past season.

In the San Jose Sharks series the twins combined for zero playoff goals, that’s true, but Henrik Sedin had an even rating and Daniel Sedin was only a -2, so I’m not really sure where Don Cherry gets his dramatic minus twelve number…

Anyway the performance of the Sedin twins, and Mike Gillis’ decision to keep them – surely the easiest decision he’s ever made – doesn’t really seem to be "the problem" in Vancouver the past couple of years…

As for the "seven games they played" where the twins "got two goals" and "were minus," I presume that Cherry is referring to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Certainly the inability of the Sedins to produce offensively in that series, and on the power-play in particular, wasn’t the finest moment of their illustrious careers. But check out the head-to-head scoring chance data from that series, because they pretty much crushed the David Krejci line and the Zdeno Chara pairing in terms of generating quality looks. They just couldn’t beat Tim Thomas… 

As for the point about Mike Gillis being at fault for making a mess of the goaltending situation, yeah, Don Cherry nails that one. That’s definitely on Mike Gillis. And so is a sizable chunk of the team’s playoff failure the past two seasons.

Still the coaching staff made some pretty baffling choices in the playoffs. Like splitting up Bieksa and Hamhuis (one of the best defensive pairings in the league the past few years). Or making Hamhuis and Garrison the team’s second pairing (just why?). Or when they played Alex Burrows on the first power-play unit (about that…), then started Cory Schneider in game three, and also got a bit too cute in trying out different combinations of players together over the last ten games of the regular season… 

Ultimately Vancouver probably didn’t have the horses to win a Stanley Cup this past season, which is on Mike Gillis. But they certainly had the personnel to make their first round series against the San Jose Sharks competitive. That the team underachieved to the extent that they were swept – that’s on Alain Vigneault.

  • Don Cherry and viewing pleasure? Like putting Ryan Johnson and excellent NHL player together.

    AV was the scapegoat, but that is what coaches are. A lot easier to fire a coach than to trade 10-12 players.

    People like Cherry will never be won over by the Sedins until they win the cup. The same was true of Datsyuk in Detroit until he got his. No matter what they do or how consistent they are, they will get labelled as certain things.

    • Exactly. He’s like a good portion of hockey fans, who prefer the Kesler type of player who plays like a man possessed. The Sedin way, of reserved speaking and finesse moves, is not palatable to some people.

    • Mantastic

      Oh, pleeeease, Sedin couldn’t even carry Datsyuk’s water bottle. Let not start calling a dog a horse now. The only thing the Sedins have proven they have during the play offs is the uncanny ability to turn invisible. They would make an awesome X-MEN character. The Sedin twins, masters of the powers of invisibility! LOL

  • pheenster

    Despite the element of truth this is still typical ‘Old Man Yells at Cloud’ Cherry. True that MG should have dealt with the ‘Lalongo’ and center situations long ago but he forget to mention that you can’t win with a Euro captain. How ironic (moronic) to be throwing the Sedins under the bus during his rant complaining about throwing guys under the bus.

  • Mr.Gillis shifted the blame and threw Alain Vignault under the bus. Hard to blame the entire team and easier to blame one person who has a great performance record. Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian and no Roberto Luongo Trade, no real scoring power and bringing in a few rental players like Roy doesn’t bring you a cup. Look at teams like Chicago or Pittsburgh whose offensive power is way above Vancouver even with the Sedins and a healthy Kessler. Gillis better start performing and finding some young talent or start looking to trade. Even the Sedins should be evaluated for their performance or me thinks Mike Gillis will be next

  • BrudnySeaby

    Gillis should be fired next. He wasn’t able to strengthen the team sufficiently over the last 2 years when he had time and cap space. Now he is expected to pull of a miracle to “reset” this team by acquiring, or trading for, or injecting youth, under a cap crunch, a short summer, while also looking for a new coaching staff and landing the AHL team a new home. Seems to me he is in over his head. And speaking of heads, I think the biggest problem is that he is feeling the pressure and in trying to save his head he might do some dumb trades that will hurt the team long term.

    I said it before and I will say it again. Aquilini needs to fire him and bring in a new GM (the current assistant GM Botterill from the Penguins perhaps?) and let that person, with a fresh perspective, evaluate the team and hire a new head coach.

    Additionally, on his presser about the AV firing, Gillis was talking about evaluating the team first and making chances and then hiring a coach. Wouldn’t it be wise to involve a coach in the personnel decisions!?

    Ugh… enough of Gillis already. He had his chances and after the SCF he had his chances to add to the team but he failed. Honestly, how can you have doubts about Malhotra being able to play again (safely), talk to the player himself about it and the possibility of shutting him down, and not have a back-up plan?

  • Mantastic

    There is a lot of noise in what Cherry says. But he is 100% correct that MG threw AV under the bus to save his own job.

    If the reports are true, Gillis offered his 1st round pick for David Clarkson. That was after giving up his 2nd round pick an a decent prospect for Derek Roy.

    Those sound like job saving moves to me. Get this guy out of the organization before he does what many thinks he is going to do: turn the Canucks into the Flames.

    • Mantastic

      I would happily trade my low first round pick for David Clarkson, an established power forward who still has a number of productive years ahead of him. I think you are a fool if you wouldn’t.

      I will say that Gillis does himself NO favours with his Eeyore-like personality. His press conferences invite you to dislike the man. The Adrian Dix of the hockey world perhaps? Smart, knows the details, but is insufferable.

      • Mantastic

        I think you are a fool to trade a first round pick for a good-but-not-great rental player.

        Just imagine losing a 1st, 2nd and Connauton and THEN losing to the Sharks.

        Assuming Clarkson doesn’t have magical powers to completely change the series around (hint: he doesn’t). That would have been a pretty huge disaster, wouldn’t it?

        I do agree with you that Gillis’ personality does himself no favours. Attacking media members in non-sequitar fashion is not exactly a quality I want in the GM of my favourite hockey team.