Sun Feb 20 11:21am EST
Don Cherry had the wind at his back on Saturday night: Pumped up by "troop night" before the Toronto Maple Leafs/Ottawa Senators game, owner of a new contract from the CBC (through the 2011-12 season).
So beginning at the 4:28 mark of the following Hockey Night In Canada Coach's Corner from Saturday night, Cherry goes rip-city on Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux for his comments a week ago following the team's melee with the New York Islanders. Take a look:
For the video impaired, Cherry's rant:
"You know, it's a funny thing: Here's Mario, he's a millionaire, and all he does ... every time he comes out ... remember, he said it was a 'garage league'? National Hockey League made him a millionaire, and all he does is kick it all the time.
"Here's what I don't understand. First of all, he didn't think this was bad; we'll show Johnson breaking DiPietro's head. Crushing him. Thought that was great. Never said a word there. Lots of fun. Now here's Cooke now. Doing a little number. Here he is on Ovechkin. Mario never said a word here. That's OK.
"Here we have Savard here, getting his head ripped off, never been the same. Mario never said a word there. Here's the worst one: There's Malkin, going in. Mario never said on Willie Mitchell(notes). He had to get traded off the club, and never played for the rest of the year. Funny, Mario never said a word.
"He said the National Hockey League doesn't do enough. A $100,000 fine? A 9-game suspension, 10-game suspension, and now he says it doesn't do enough. You can't have a guy like Cooke do the things he does, you keep your mouth shut, and then you have a little donnybrook, where nobody gets hurt, and now you're going to get out of the League.
"But you do that, you're a hypocrite, and speak two sides out of your mouth. You shouldn't do that. If you're going to keep your mouth shut on other things, keep your mouth shut [here]."
Due respect to hockey venerable old-school curmudgeon, but this was an entertaining misfire for Cherry.
It's red meat for Mario's critics who view his cutting a check to Matt Cooke(notes) as eliminating any moral high ground in this debate. It fails to comprehend what it was Mario was whining about, which was a series of premeditated cheap shots in a revenge game.
So Mario should have "said something" after two goalies willfully engaged in a fight and one of them can't take a punch? What, that it would have fit perfectly on the hundreds of Cherry-pimped VHS tapes found in the back of storage closets around North America?
Mario should have said something on what was (regretfully) a legal hit from Cooke on Savard? That he didn't, eliminates any opportunity to gripe about what happened last Friday? Really?
The Willie Mitchell play is the worst example. (You know, the one that caused a phantom trade by the Canucks, according to Cherry.) Here's a dangerous, illegal hit, for sure ... but in the course of play. Which shows Cherry had no clue what it was Mario was actually railing against.
Cooke, Malkin, hundreds of players every season do reckless things during games that put their foes at risk. Had Mario bitched about that sort of play going under-punished by the NHL, then Cherry's bang-on. But he wasn't. In the end, Cherry's arguing about apples when Mario was talking about rutabaga.
But we'll agree with one basic message from Cherry: Mario should speak more often.