Don Cherry’s nothing if not opinionated. I tend to have a habit of finding other things to watch when I’m watching him; most of what I’ve “heard” him say I’ve just read on the internet. He never ceases to amaze me, and this gem from last night’s Coach’s Corner is fantastic. Greg Wyshynski highlights it on Puck Daddy as a chance for Barry Trotz to prove Cherry wrong regarding playing Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn Wednesday night (Cherry was in favor, obviously the Preds disagreed).
But Cherry’s commentary on the two Preds players who put themselves above the team totally missed the mark. From Coach’s Corner (transcribed by Greg Wyshynski):
“It’s funny, I just listened to some of the guys on the other channel … Roenick and the guys, and everybody is right. Absolutely. To make the franchise look good, it’s politically correct, everyone says, ‘Put a bullet in their head, bench them.’ Well, not me. Not a chance. When you do that, you irk the club. You really … who do you hurt? You hurt the Russians? You’re gonna teach them discipline? You’re not gonna hurt them!
“But I’ll tell you one thing: [Radulov] is the No. 1 scorer and [Kostitsyn] is the No. 2 scorer. Just watch these plays … you’re gonna bench these guys? I love Tootoo and the other guys, don’t get me wrong, but these are your top scorers. This is the playoffs. This could be the Stanley Cup.
“I would have never, ever benched them. You don’t bench guys at this time. When I was a GM or a coach I never suspended a guy, or a never fined him. … A guilty conscience is the greatest motivator. What they did is they protected the franchise, they protected themselves, it was politically correct. … The rest of the guys, if you took a vote, they would say play them.”
There’s a sense that Cherry doesn’t really quite understand what it takes to play on a team. Accountability is one of the most important things among a team. You can’t have one person being treated above another for any reason. You have your top two scorers in the playoffs break a rule and show the team that they don’t care — and Radulov played like it in game two — and you decide to not bench them for a violation of team rules? What message does that send?
It’s not “doing anything to win.” It’s showing that you care about the team, and that people who aren’t on board with team responsibility deserve to sit. The Preds played better without them anyway, which should show Cherry that sometimes “doing anything to win” might be doing the less popular thing. Having the team have confidence in the coach and the team is a lot more important than showing them that some folks can get away with anything.
The other highlight of the segment is this line:
“You hurt the Russians? You’re gonna teach them discipline? You’re not gonna hurt them!”
Way to keep that stereotype alive, Don.