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Cherry says Kovalchuk is ‘just laughing all the way to the bank’

Jul 13, 2013, 12:46 PM EDT

Don Cherry Getty Images

One guy we were all curious to hear from concerning Ilya Kovalchuk‘s “retirement” from the NHL was Don Cherry.

Grapes’ thoughts in the past on players not from North America have always been lively, to say the least, and his take on Kovalchuk is no different as he told Bryan Angus of (h/t Puck Daddy)

“The Russians and the foreign people can have their cake and eat it, too,” he said. “They don’t like it here? ‘Hey, I’ll just…go back to the KHL and grab $77 million!’ And hey, why shouldn’t he? Hey, it’s tax free! So right off the top he’s saving 50 percent.

“So that’s why a lot of people are afraid to draft Russians. They do what they want to do and we cater to them. I’m the only guy that says the truth. You know, they have their cake and eat it, too, and Kovalchuk is just laughing all the way to the bank.”

For what you expect to hear from Cherry, this isn’t quite as over the top as it could’ve been. There’s more of the “Russian effect” talk and an “‘atta boy” for Kovalchuk getting paid.

There was one zinger though:

“You’re getting [millions] tax free over there … In a sense, if you don’t have any honor, it’s a pretty good deal.”

Well played, Grapes. Here’s the full video of his take on Kovalchuk.

  1. icelovinbrotha215 - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    May be he won’t be honored in North America but he is, and will be more so, regarded a national hero in Russia. On a moral standpoint, it probably wasn’t the smartest move but one can only has so much time to make a ‘X’ amount of money.

    • bruinspaw - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      He could have retired before the free agency period given his ex team more of a chance to try and find a decent replacement. Douche move on his part for timing.

      • stakex - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:46 PM

        We still don’t know exactly when the Devils knew he was going to do this though. Its hard to tell from the Devil’s comments, but we do know that earlier this year he told them he wanted to go back to Russia… and one would have to think this was talked about pretty extensively before the announcement was made.

        Isn’t it also possible the Devils tried but were unable to land any of the big name free agents? Even if they were in the market, doesn’t mean the players would have been interested. Because lets face it… the Devils really needed to land a top free agent anyway, even if Kovalchuk wasn’t going anywhere. So I would have to assume they made efforts to sign other players and just couldn’t make it work, so instead they settled for Clowe (a huge waste of money).

      • 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:11 PM

        We finally know when Ilya told Lou of his final decision. According to Tom Gulliti, a very reliable source for Devils info, he wrote on his Fire & Ice blog:

        “According to a source, Lamoriello was informed by Kovalchuk’s camp (whether Kovalchuk himself or his agent told Lamoriello is unclear) that the the 30-year-old Russian intended to leave the Devils and return to the KHL as much as a week before the NHL’s free agent market opened on July 5. Kovalchuk did not sign his voluntary retirement papers—and make it official—until earlier this week, though.”

        So, as you see, Devils knew prior to the FA start.

      • devils27 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        Or… He announced this afterwards so the devils had any chance to sign the free agents they did. However mediocre they were 😦 I imagine Lou knows what he’s doing. Though I question it more and more every year.

  2. 950003cups - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    Be careful Don Cherry. You might not wanna answer the door if the guy knocking says “mysteeer Sherry! Zis iz VLADMIR! I vant talk to you about bad breathing habit you hev. I come to stop it”

    Your messing with Ilya Kovalchuk, the new face of the Russian Mob.

  3. pone27 - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Cannot stand Don Cherry.

    Guy thinks Canada is the promise land, thinks he is right on everything, and constantly acts like Canada gets the short end of the stick in hockey/NHL.

    Canadians have their cake and eat it too. Look at all the top salaries in the NHL. According to capgeek, 5 of the top 10 highest paid players in the league are Canadian. The top 2 are Canadian. 2 of the top ten (well now 1) are Russian (was Kovy, and Ovi)

    Talking about Russians having their cake and eat it too, get off it Cherry. He is acting like the KHL wouldn’t welcome Canadian and American born players into the league. The KHL is dying to toss dough out, its just no one wants to play there.

    • loinstache - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      What? They’re the top paid players because they’re among the most skilled and numerous.. And most of them play for American teams so the taxes don’t even go to their home country. How is that having your cake and eating it too?

      • pone27 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:10 PM

        Exactly. My point is Canadians are, for the majority, the highest paid players in the league. Not questioning whether they should be or not, just stating a fact that Cherry always thinks Canadians get shafted on everything involving hockey, when in reality they don’t at all.

        We can sit here and talk about 50% cuts on taxes with their salary and what not, but like every professional sport athlete who makes a very high salary, we all know they make their dough via endorsements.

        Look, these guys are all making 6-7 figures plus to play a professional sport. They are all having their cake and eating it too so to speak. I just cannot stand how Cherry always makes it seem like he is the only guy who speaks the truth, is always correct and thinks he has the inside knowledge on everything involving hockey.

        Kovy is a smart man for retiring of course. The issue is how and when he did it.

    • sunderlanding - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      What analyst doesn’t think they’re right on everything? Besides who would want to listen to someone who says: “I might be wrong but…” What makes Don entertaining is his conviction. Canadian players are the best. Furthermore, I don’t ever remember him saying Canadian players get the shaft. He simply promotes Canadian players and Canadian hockey because, when it comes to the NHL, Canadians are the best.

    • kitshky - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:11 PM

      You’re kind of a moron … you must know that right?

      Cherry talks about Canadian hockey and Canadian markets getting the shaft, not the Canadian player gets the shaft. No one on earth talks about how gifted (and rewarded) Canadian hockey players are than Don Cherry.

      Yes, as he’s aged he’s become a buffoon, and as a Western Canadian his Eastern bias is at times beyond bearable … but he’s a brilliant hockey mind with as much experience in this game as anyone else on earth so I suggest you take your seat in the peanut gallery and comment on things you have a right to comment on.

      • cofran2004 - Jul 15, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        he has a right to comment on whatever he wants. you are not the be all end all on who is allowed to talk on the internet.

      • kitshky - Jul 17, 2013 at 3:19 AM

        Thanks pal … because that’s exactly what I was doing there.

        When someone makes a factually inaccurate statement on a conversation board I’m pretty sure it’s ok to point it out.

        Cherry doesn’t go on about Canadian players getting the shaft, my point still stands … but thanks for coming out.

  4. joey4id - Jul 13, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    if you can have your cake and it too, wouldn’t you? Kovalchuk is doing what is best for him. what’s the deal? hardly the first person to think like that.

    • sunderlanding - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:29 PM

      It still makes him selfish. No one is denying that he’s doing what is best for him. That’s the problem. He didn’t think about the team, or the deal that he made.

      • hockeydon10 - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        That’s a retarded stance to take now that we know he told the team his intentions a week before free agency started.

        In fact, if he had announced to the world he was leaving around June 27, as has been reported is when he told the Devils, that could have cooled any potential free agents from signing with the Devils, knowing they just lost a skilled sniper. By waiting until after, the Devils could have kept quiet and let potential free agents think they would get a chance to play on a team with Kovy.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        I don’t know what crazy world you live in, but where I come from when you sign a contract you put your word to something. That means if you have any honor you’ll stand by what you’ve promised the fans and the owners. If you don’t want to play here don’t sign the contract. You can’t bail on the fans when things get a little tough or you change your mind. You’ve given them your word. Apparantly his word isn’t worth very much.

      • joey4id - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:27 PM

        selfish? are you saying he should have said thanks but no thanks to the KHL?

      • joey4id - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:32 PM

        sunderlanding, his contract binds him to get paid x dollars while playing in NJ. if he doesn’t play in NJ they don’t pay him. nothing in his contract prevents him from bolting to the KHL. welcome to free market enterprise.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:15 PM

        When you sign a contract for x years you’re putting your word down to play for x years. It’s dishonest to not play out, or intend to play out your contract. Everyone knows he CAN leave. Obviously because he just DID. We don’t need you to point that out. That doesn’t stop it from being a dishonest move.

      • dueman - Jul 13, 2013 at 7:43 PM

        People with honour will agree with you sunderlanding, just as people without, who think that what he did was fine, will not. You won’t change their minds because that’s just who they are.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 14, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        I know, but I’m off work and have nothing better to do.

      • joey4id - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:13 PM

        if it is obvious he can leave when he wants to, then how can his behavior be dishonest?

      • sunderlanding - Jul 14, 2013 at 1:54 PM

        Because he signed a contract? Furthermore that contract said he would play for the Devils for x amount of years. He didn’t, and most people believe he never had any intention of playing it out. So to recap he put his word to something that he had no intention of fulfilling. Where I come from they call that dishonest.

      • joey4id - Jul 15, 2013 at 1:35 AM

        then owners are dishonest when they terminate a contract when they buy out a player. maybe he had every intention of fullfilling the contract when he sgned.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 15, 2013 at 4:09 PM

        Sure they are. What’s your point? I know there are a lot of dishonest people out there. One of them is Kovalchuk.

  5. norvturnersneck - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Let them eat cake!

  6. snipedanglecelly13 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Well I hope datsyuk doesn’t do the same thing…idt he will but never know

  7. helladonks - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    don cherry pls go

  8. kegmen7 - Jul 13, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    I just hope somebody goes bobby clarke on kovi’s ankle in the Olympics…

    • kitshky - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:12 PM

      ….well that’s just inappropriate.

  9. crazemastercraze - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    If he would have just come out and said tax free money is the reason for leaving the NHL, fine. But instead we get some “whoa is me, I miss home” lie. F him

  10. flyerfan2083 - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:13 PM


    While I agree with the idea that kovy’s choice was a selfish one, his choice to leave the Devils now actually helps them out in the long run, especially when you consider the team’s current financial situation. Right now, they have to pay $250k in recapture penalties for the remainder of his term for a total of 3 million….had Kovy played until he was 35, or let’s be generous and say 38 (cause lets be honest, we all know he couldn’t play out that entire contract), and then retired, the devils would have had to pay Kovy his millions per season, and then face cap recapture penalties upwards of 4 million per season, totaling around 16 million. So, Kovy is saving the cash strapped Devils around 13 million in penalties minimum, plus 77 million in salary, for a total of atleast 100 million. Considering the team was ready to file bankruptcy, that’s a pretty big bonus for them. Yes, they lose out on what will likely be a lottery pick this year, but that’s on Lou, and would still happen if Kovy were on the team. They had a run for a cup, and it’s clear the team knew well in advance of free agency that Kovy was leaving, so I’d say that missing out on any big ticket free agents was again on management. It’s also not Kovy’s fault that the team has little for prospects in the pipeline. So while losing Kovy stings and surely leaves a bitter taste in a few people’s mouths, the Devils are much better off now than they would be had this transpired a few years down the road

    • hockeydon10 - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:37 PM

      Exactly. They’re going to experience a short term spike in pain, but in the long run this is good for the Devils. He was becoming injury prone and his production was dropping off. There is no way he was going to be worth a $6.66M cap hit, let alone the $10M+ salary in the next few years.

  11. LampyB - Jul 13, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Datsyuk won’t so the same and abandon ship unless he’s got about a year left which is fine. Kovalchuk as was stated, has no honor or respect for the league or the team that gave him such an outrageous contract. He’s a sleazebag despite what he feels is best for his family. If he had any doubts he shouldn’t have pushed for such a huge lengthy contract. Just another reason Russians are a joke.

  12. 19inarow - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    I can see the writing on the wall that Ovechkin will follow, whether he wins the Cup or not. If he does, then he accomplished what he set out to do (presumably) and, if he doesn’t, he’s going to get too sick of hearing it from the fans. I give him two more years.

    I’m glad my team, for the most part, avoids Eastern Europeans.

  13. rushledger - Jul 13, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    Kovalchuk is far from right here, but the last person I want to here from is don cherry.

    I’m sick to death of his biased rants, sad attempts to stand out with his crazy suits, he begs for attention doing these things, that’s why he won’t go away he feeds off saying things like this.

    He cost Boston a cup and he’s a lunatic so he’s not allowed behind a bench again.

    The day he’s gone from hockey will be amazing. He adds nothing positive to the game.

  14. blackhawks2010 - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Exactly, well said Grapes. Let the Russians play in the inferior Hockey league, KHL. The KHL is a step down from AHL.

    • rpiotr01 - Jul 13, 2013 at 7:01 PM

      Talent wise it’s true, it’s not up to snuff with the NHL, but on the other hand – no clutching and grabbing, bigger ice, more scoring and more fun, and more money. What’s not to like for a native Russian player?

  15. slysipops - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    ah geez don !!you still got a bug in your butt because the BLACKHAWKS waxed your beloved BRUINS and their AARP SUPERSTAR ! get over it ….MAYBE ,he just wants what is best for his family ?? not everyone is awed by the OBAMA -run USA !

  16. mnwildnstar - Jul 13, 2013 at 6:40 PM

    Yada yada about the percentages and numbers and the harsh comments, the bottom line is the guy’s heart apparently wasn’t playing in the NHL anymore. So the Devils are better off without him.

  17. banger60 - Jul 13, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    I’m speechless, Don didn’t talk about his AHL days.

  18. deezenucks - Jul 13, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    Wow some of you really sweat the small stuff.. there is a reason he is still on tv for as long as he has been, Cherry is a beauty, he’s one of a kind.
    Ive grown up with coaches corner my entire life. Regardless of what you haters think all he does is love the game and his country, Americans aren’t the only ones allowed to be patriotic. Ill take Don over a Jim Rome any day, it’ll be a sad day when he finally retires.

    • slysipops - Jul 14, 2013 at 10:09 PM

      right on deezenuucks ! he defenitely likes the players ,though mostly north AMERICAN ones, he loves his country , he has a great heart for the soldiers , he loves the kids ! he also reports it AS HE SEES IT ! not like some of the suck-butts who say what they are told to say ! i always try to catch him on HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA……really get a kick out of his outfits ! if he was’t such a mean old cuss i would wonder about the clothes though ! lol ! i’ll always remember going to my first live hockey game. it was at the old CHICAGO STADIUM ( great place to go to a game ) anyway i met a couple from TORONTO ( the HAWKS were playing the LEAFS ) . the man explained about how much difference there was ( in those days ) about going to see a game at the GARDENS. men wore suits and ties , the ladies wore dresses and fur coats and etc. , there were no hotdogs or beer or cokes….just the game ! shortly after that i got to finaly start seeing games from other places and noticed how true what he said was ! it was sure a far cry in the old days of blue-collar hockey and fans alike ! now you have the TRENDIES eating their pizza and nochos and taking picture of themselves on their phones ( even while the game is going ) …go figure !

  19. Anoesis - Jul 13, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Whatever a player wants to do he should be able to do. Big deal. What really grinds my gears are people who are so obviously clueless about a pretty simple expression that is meant to indicate wanting to have both choices in an either/or situation. Anyone can “have their cake and eat it.” That’s exactly what every single person who has ever had a piece of cake does. They have it, and then they eat it.

    The trick, and the whole reason for the expression in the first place, is to EAT your cake and HAVE it, too. You know, like a magical, never-getting-smaller cake no matter how much you eat. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” Is it really that difficult to figure out?

    Right along the lines of “I could care less.” So you DO care at some level? “I couldn’t care less” gets the message across: I don’t care. I care so little, I couldn’t care less. Okay, rant over, go back to slaughtering the language.

  20. girouxed - Jul 13, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Well the lockout didnt help either.

    How can you fault him for doing this I don’t understand. He did what was best for himself and his family.

    How can you disagree? Because the NHL is afraid of the KHL.

  21. yvrmike - Jul 14, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    FREE Market
    The NHL greedy owners decided to put a $ cap on so the owners can make sure that they make a ton of $$$ WOW.
    KHL has no cap any team can spend as much as they want and players can make as much as the owners offer them. What’s wrong with that?
    Does anybody tell you how much you should be paying your employee. If you don’t pay him/her enough they are gone.
    KHL may one day surpass the NHL if they continue to give the best players the most money. Canadians & Europeans will be flocking to play there for the $$$
    Its all about the money for players and owners.

  22. ducksk - Jul 14, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Right on grapes, right on. And you really think the best of Canada and USA will go to a commie country and fly around in 1950’s jets and buses for more $? Fool. Oh and stay in 2 star hotels? Been there done that. Hey if they are homesick let them leave. Their choice.

  23. banger60 - Jul 14, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    moron, lol, who the f*ck are you telling people what they can comment on, your the moron!

  24. jucam1 - Jul 14, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Don Cherry is an idiot, i love Canada, and Canadians for that matter, but how that country continues to allow that clown to be on TV and make his opinion matter is insane! I have little opinion on Kovi, just wish he’d take Cherry with him and make him and his stupid jackets disappear in some Putin-run secret camp where you can’t talk

  25. 2jivecrew - Jul 14, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    So Mr. Cherry, you’re telling me that the owners “had honor” by trying their hardest NOT to honor the deals they had extended to these players when they locked them out? Mkay.

    This is just the owners getting a little taste of their own medicine. And I hope it starts happening a lot more.

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