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"Challenging the NHL refs"
Vancouver, BC • Canada •
Wouldn’t it be nice if just once Ron MacLean actually challenged one of Don Cherry’s outlandish assertions and made him support it with some substance?

Seriously though, if you throw in a few Cherry-wanna-be’s, like Mike Milbury or Doug MacLean, the so-called expert analysis segment of your favourite hockey program is filled to the brim with unsupported rhetoric from former executives whose NHL track record is about as successful as the betamax or myspace.com.

How many times have you heard Don Cherry say “Don’t be a wise guy, I know!!” These seven words are the sum total of Cherry’s rebuttal on the rare occasion that Ron Mclean does try to play devil’s advocate.

Too abstract? Let’s deal with some real examples then. Recently Cherry stated that the Winnipeg Jets would be more successful with Chris Mason in net and even suggested that Mason has never been given a legitimate shot as an NHL starter.

Never mind the fact that Nashville and St. Louis gave Mason 209 starts in 4 seasons. Some would say an average of 55 starts per year over 4 seasons is in fact a starter, but once again we’ll let Cherry have his own version of the truth, no matter how tainted it may be. Put Mason’s stats and performance up against that of Ondrej Pavelec and you have the material for a great debate, unless Cherry’s in the room and logic isn’t.

However, my favourite segments of “Coaches Corner” are when Cherry uses a few select video clips to illustrate his archaic POV, such as a deflection off a defenders stick ending up as a goal against. According to the Don, putting your stick in the shooting lane is always & forever a mistake, despite the fact that the video department could find hundreds of clips where the shot was deflected harmlessly to a corner or out of play for every deflection that goes wrong. We wouldn’t want a healthy discussion here!

If a defender’s breakout pass is intercepted and ends up in the back of the net, we get to hear the same old story about how the defenders should ALWAYS put it off the glass and out. God forbid that the mannequin MacLean bring up the fact that the most successful teams in today’s NHL are “puck possession” teams who rarely use the glass unless they are in real trouble in their own end.

If Cherry were still coaching in the NHL, and I cringe at the thought, he would have the same success he had with the Colorado Rockies and the play on the ice would resemble a game of table tennis with no tic-tac-toe goals that get us off our feet. The sad part of the equation though, is the young players or coaches who might bring this outdated thinking to the rink and cheat themselves of an exciting and evolved style of play.

It’s time for Don Cherry to hit the showers and let someone from the post zamboni era shed some light on the greatest game on earth!
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