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Cherry reiterates need for Ontario-born players on Leafs

Mar 5, 2012, 12:06 PM EDT


Unlike Rush Limbaugh, Don Cherry refused to apologize. The CBC’s high-collar enthusiast joined Sportsnet 590 The Fan this morning to address the comments he made Saturday night on Coach’s Corner connecting the Toronto Maple Leafs’ lack of Ontario-born players with their lack of success on the ice.

“Maybe I am prejudice,” Cherry said. “Maybe I am for Ontario players. … Go back to 1993. Think of all the guys. They were all from Ontario … We were promised truculence and we never got it. I had to say it. I was a little carried away but that’s how I feel.”

It’s easy to poke holes in Cherry’s theory, and plenty are doing it. But the Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin argues there might be something bigger at stake – the CBC’s future as an NHL broadcaster. Because apparently it’s not just Brian Burke, the Vancouver Canucks, English teachers, etc. that have issues with Grapes and co-host Ron MacLean.

The league, too, has been less than enthusiastic about Cherry’s demeaning of the new rules, discipline czar Brendan Shanahan, and the refereeing. Commissioner Gary Bettman appears to be boycotting Hockey Night in Canada after several contentious interviews with MacLean. Some of this is predictable, of course. As the expression goes, journalism’s goal is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

But it is becoming clear that CBC may pay a price for countenancing the Ron ’n’ Don agenda of old-time values. NHL officials would not comment publicly on whether the pair would be an impediment to CBC retaining all or some of the next national TV rights package in Canada, which begin in 2014.

There’s already speculation that the CBC, a Canadian crown corporation, will have trouble outbidding Bell Media, a private media company that includes CTV and TSN, in 2014. Financially and politically, it might be untenable for a public broadcaster to commit the millions and millions of dollars it will take to keep the rights.

If you missed Cherry’s rant on Saturday, here it is:

  1. buffalomafia - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Two thumbs up for Don Cherry’s movie in CBC!

    There should be more people who tell it like it is like Don Cherry!

    Salute’ to the Coaches Corner!

  2. loinstache - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    I’m really torn on this. One hand I enjoy the tradition and (most of) the CBC commentators. On the other I tire of their flagrant Easter Canada bias. Conversely I can’t stand the TSN panel, but I enjoy their complete and impartial bias.

    Although the league can f itself regarding their stance on some of Cherry’s comments. The officiating IS terrible, don’t be surprised when it gets pointed out. I hate the thought that broadcasts like CBC have to take the side of the NHL.

    • velocirapist - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:24 PM

      You don’t even get TSN! They have a terrible Leafs bias! They think the Leafs are an NHL team for Christ’s sake!

  3. pkswally024 - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Yeah, because that’ll make your team better…

  4. habsman - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Both Cherry and Burke are clowns. The difference is Grapes will air it out for all to see. Burke on the other hand prefers to go behind your back as he did to the CBC and Board of Govenors.

  5. firstandonlywarning - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Burke is an embarrassment and has done very little in this league to warrant any benefits of the doubt. But somehow people think he’s a “great GM” comparable to some of the best. Based on what? No idea, he has 1 ring from a team that Bryan Murray built and has miked it into legend.

    Burke is one of the worst GM’s in the NHL.
    For every good move I can point out 2 bad
    For every good draft pick I can point out 2 failed picks

    Still drinking the kool-aid Leafs fans? Served up to you by an American who doesn’t give a damn about you no less.

    Pathetic Leafs nation

  6. lameasish - Mar 5, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Pathetic leaf nation? You do realize we as fans have ZERO say regarding who our GM is right? It’s also just a sport to me, it does not mean much in my day to day life. I guess you don’t have much else going on in yours, that’s too bad.

    • firstandonlywarning - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      What’s pathetic is that there is still a large # of you trying to tell people Burke is a good GM

      And if “its just a sport to you” you’re not part of Leaf Nation

      So you can disregard and get to your Pilate class

  7. bcisleman - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    There are two issues here. Grapes may be way over the top with his obsession about Ontario born players, but there is a legitimate point. It is probably true that there is more developing young hockey talent in Ontarion than in any other jurisdiction in the world, but beyond that, Burke and the Leafs have to be tone deaf as to PR not to have a single local lad on their roster. I have to believe that there is at least ONE Ontario-born player Brian Burke could sign with integrity.

    The other point is the idea that the NHL may be trying to silence Grapes and Ron. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the hockey media responds if this is the case. They all circled the wagons when Garth Snow took away Chris Botta’s credentials. Will they take a similar stand on Grapes and Ron’s behalf? Or are they complete hypocrites? We will see.

  8. haterzgonahate - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    like him or not, Cherry isn’t afraid to speak his mind. and for a crown corporation that is the CBC, it can be the only voice of the tax paying Canadian people.

    I don’t always agree with what Don Cherry says… but god love him for saying the things most dare not say. he’s been doing it for 30+ years… why should it stop?

  9. kitshky - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    In 8 minutes, he manages to make me embarrassed to be Canadian hockey fan, gets me actually a little angry, makes me laugh … and then gets me to tear up.

    Love him or hate him, Don’s damn good at his job.

  10. DTF31 - Mar 5, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Win games and none of this even comes up

    • govtminion - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:54 PM

      There’s something to be said for that.

  11. sheckyrimshot - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    man HNIC stands for something completely different where i’m from.

  12. smgraff4 - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    The point that Don Cherry makes is something that is more made in college sports (particularly sports that are played more frequently in many parts of the USA). It’s the idea that your team should be a representation and a part of your community, and thus it should have players from your region that know your regional culture, etc.

    It’s something that makes the highs, like winning a Stanley Cup or two or three really high, and the lows not so low. It also becomes a lot easier to scout players because the community a player is from tends to know more about intricacies of a player’s personality–or potential shortcomings that need to be addressed, rather than find out after the player’s signed his contract.

    For markets like Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg, Washington, Carolina, Phoenix, Dallas, Anaheim, LA, and San Jose, etc., it’s not possible right now, outside of a VERY few players. But, give the development system time in those places to discover and nurture local talent—and provide major junior hockey and college hockey opportunities in these regions is only going to grow the sport. Also, introducing other forms of hockey kids can play in the streets or gyms when it’s a little warmer–like rink hockey or inline hockey can only help. For markets like Toronto, Vancouver, etc., a controversial idiot like Don Cherry should not have to remind teams to invest in a few local players (out of 23 spots). It should come from within the organization. It should come from the desire of a “team” to be a “club” and to bring in hometown players to get the third and most important leg of the 3-legged stool that is the club–the fans–to passionately support the team.

  13. pavelfitzgerald - Mar 5, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    You didn’t just compare Limbaugh & Cherry did you?
    Limbaugh apologized because he had to – he called a woman who wanted birth control a a “slut” & “prostitute” on national tv/radio … Cherry talked about more Ontario players on Toronto.
    Now I don’t agree with Cherry’s perspective but that doesn’t warrant comparing him to an idiot racist, bigot like Limbaugh. That’s like comparing apples & iguanas (ludicrous).
    Also, I couldn’t agree more with firstandonlywarning – Burke inherited his ring from Bryan Murray & those how point to the Pronger trade need to remember Edmonton was bent over due to Chris Pronger’s extramarital affairs

  14. geo91 - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    What country your from has nothing to do with how good you are (isn’t Vanek from Poland or something?), which makes the argument of not having players from a specific province that much dumber. I think Donnie boy should stick to his youth development stuff and leave the other stuff at home.

  15. brian32556 - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Cherry and Millbury should start a network of their own – RANT.TV!!

  16. pone27 - Mar 5, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Its pretty obvious that Cherry has always been a huge Ontario advocate and thinks the city is the only place that brings top players in the league.

    If Cherry really thinks having an all Ontario hockey team will win cups, I laugh at him. In this day and age of hockey, I would take Europeans over Ontario players, hands down.

    • haterzgonahate - Mar 5, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      you’d be the only one… other than people from Europe

  17. yardape74 - Mar 5, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    That’s the answer Don. You clown!!!!!!!!! They need goalies and good players from anywhere.

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