Don Cherry is easily one of the biggest voices in all of hockey and probably the most entertaining analysts in all of sports. Cherry’s old school opinions are definitely extremely intriguing to listen to, even if we do not agree with them. His outstanding and wild attire is something that every fan looks forward to seeing, including myself. Cherry has been the voice of Coach’s Corner for years now and with him, the show has been a fan favorite for all Canadians around the country. However, although Cherry is beloved by so many, it is important to note that he is not always correct with his opinions and he lets them blind his judgement. This happens every year multiple times, but we still love him.
With that said, in this article we will be looking at eight players Don Cherry was wrong about and seven that he got absolutely right. The names on this list will be some big ones and/or involved in some serious events. Yet, even with this, us as fans will have differing opinions with one another over if he was truly correct or incorrect. Until Cherry retires, he will always be an incredibly entertaining analyst for us and will provide a source of old time hockey. With that said, all we can do now is be grateful that he is still active for us.
Nonetheless, here are the eight players Don Cherry was wrong about and seven that he got correct!
15 Wrong:Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin has been one of the best players in the NHL for quite some time and no one today can score like he can. Although he has never led the Washington Capitals to a Stanley Cup, there is still time for him to turn it around and help them complete their mission. Yet, there have been moments in his career when he was criticized and Don Cherry was a main culprit.
After Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he did a very memorable goal celebration. Don Cherry did not like this whatsoever and criticized Ovechkin and said the act was entirely disrespectful. Although the celebration was big, it was a huge moment in Ovechkin’s career and he was fired up. There’s nothing wrong with that.
14 Right: Pavel Datsyuk
It is very depressing that Pavel Datsyuk is no longer in the NHL because we sadly do not have the chance to watch him dominate in America. Datsyuk was easily the best deker in the NHL during his tenure with the Detroit Red Wings and since he has left them, the team has completely dropped off and are one of the worsts in the league.
Don Cherry has always seemed to have a lot of animosity toward European players, but surprisingly, Cherry absolutely praised Datsyuk for his skill. There is no doubt that Cherry called it right on Datsyuk by saying he is one of the most creative players in the NHL and an absolute superstar. I mean, how could anyone not agree with that?
13 Wrong: Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara is still one of the best defenders on the Boston Bruins and a huge reason why they are having a great turnaround season. Although Chara is getting very old, he still has enough gas left in the tank to play at least one more season after this one. This is because Chara’s strength is still in tact and he is one of the toughest players in the league.
Yet, Zdeno Chara found himself in a great controversy with his infamous hit on Max Pacioretty that left the latter with a broken neck and serious concussion. Cherry defended Chara’s actions and said the hit was not intent to injure, but that is easily incorrect. There was already a bad history between the two players that started only months before. This was clear retaliation by Chara.
12 Right: Raffi Torres
I think everyone in the hockey world is extremely happy that Raffi Torres is out of the league because he was an absolute punk on the ice who actively tried to injure other players. For awhile, Torres actually had the potential to become a superstar in the league, but his atrocious discipline is what ultimately killed his chances of completing that.
Don Cherry was right by absolutely hating Raffi Torres as a player as well. During an episode of Coach’s Corner, Cherry went on to discuss how Torres is an extremely dangerous player and should not be in the league because of how often he aims to hurt players. Cherry also backed up his argument by talking about the multiple long suspensions Torres has gotten and that was a smart move.
11 Wrong: Milan Lucic
Milan Lucic is having a pretty rough season this year with the Edmonton Oilers, but it is very likely that he will be able to turn it around. Lucic has been one of the NHL’s top power forwards for quite some time now and will always be feared when he is on the ice. Yet, it also is important to note that he has the ability to be a fantastic scorer as well.
One night when Don Cherry guest starred on NESN, he went on to criticize the way Milan Lucic fought Colton Orr. Lucic had been dealing with a nagging injury at the time, so he was not as engaged as he normally would be. Cherry called him a disgrace of a Boston Bruin because of this. Yet, Lucic proved him wrong by helping the Bruins win the Stanley Cup that next season.
10 Right: Dion Phaneuf
Dion Phaneuf is a hockey player who permanently hurt his legacy by playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Phaneuf simply was not the star power that the Maple Leafs thought he was going to be when they traded for him and as a result of this, he was heavily criticized. Yet, Phaneuf is still a decent hockey player who simply should never have been there captain.
Although Don Cherry was a bit harsh when talking about Dion Phaneuf, he was absolutely right when he said that he should have been stripped from the captaincy. Phaneuf clearly could not handle the pressure of playing in a market like Toronto and was treated poorly because of it. I think we all can hope he can turn it around in Ottawa.
9 Wrong: Brandon Manning
Brandon Manning will most likely be remembered for being the player who hurt Connor McDavid and ruined his rookie season in the process. The hit by Manning was not necessarily on purpose, but the aftermath of it has left a huge rivalry between the two players. Manning is not a very talented hockey player, but he is incredibly strong and a perfect fit for the Flyers.
Don Cherry weighed in on his opinion of the Brandon Manning hit on McDavid and claimed that it was clearly on purpose because McDavid is a star player. He later said that Manning purposely forced him into the boards, but there is no clear indication of that. It was just an awkward collision that led to a serious injury. Nothing else.
8 Right: Auston Matthews
Auston Matthews is the main reason why the Toronto Maple Leafs are back to being a good hockey club and his impact was felt immediately. After years of struggling, the Maple Leafs shocked the NHL world and made the playoffs in Matthew’s first season with the team. This year they are already playing better and are expected to continue to improve.
Don Cherry has always been an extremely critical analyst, but even he recognizes greatness when it is presented in front of him. Cherry said that he sees Matthews as the future of the organization and will be one of the bests when he develops into his prime. He also said that Matthews should be the captain when he builds his game up and that is entirely correct.
7 Wrong: Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel has completely redeemed himself as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins by helping the club win back to back Stanley Cups. During his time in Toronto, Kessel was always criticized as being a lazy player and one dimensional. This ultimately would eat up Kessel and impact his overall play. The media used to eat him alive, including Don Cherry.
Don Cherry always said that Phil Kessel simply did not work hard enough and blamed him for a lot of the problems with the Maple Leafs. It is great to see that Kessel was able to turn his career around in Pittsburgh. Yet, that has not stopped Cherry from still criticizing him about his warm up habits during the playoffs. He was wrong yet again.
6 Right: Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby is currently the best player in the NHL and his resume will always be considered as one of the bests. Crosby has helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cup thus far and it is likely that he will win another one before he retires. Although Crosby is one of the best players in the world, he also is extremely hated by a lot of players around the league.
Don Cherry is someone who has always respected Sidney Crosby for his skill set, but he has also ripped on him for diving habits. Cherry feels that Crosby sometimes acts like a baby when he complains to the refs and he is absolutely right with this one. Crosby is so much better when he is actually focusing on the game and playing it correctly.
5 Wrong: P.K. Subban
P.K. Subban is one of the top defenders in the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens are not very bright for letting him go during his prime years. There is no doubt that Shea Weber is a very talented player, but he is clearly on the decline and is already worse than Subban. Subban will very likely be the player that leads Nashville to a Stanley Cup as well.
Although P.K. Subban is a very talented hockey player, Don Cherry made a bit of a stupid comparison involving him and Bobby Orr. Cherry hinted at the fact that he believes that Subban has the dominance of a player like Orr, but that is false. No defender in this era is as good as Bobby Orr and we will never have another player like him on the backend.
4 Right: Sean Avery
Sean Avery will always be remembered for being a pest more than his actual skill as a hockey player. When Avery actually focused on the game at hand, he was a fairly good hockey player and even effective. Yet, Avery’s horrible behaviour on and off the ice always got in the way from him being respected in the league. The majority of NHLers despised him.
Don Cherry used to say that he did not necessarily hate Avery because of his constant taunting, but rather on the fact that he only would fight players he knew he had the upper hand on. He felt that Avery would never back up his words and take on tough players because he was ultimately too much of a coward. Cherry absolutely got this one right and everyone can agree on that.
3 Wrong: Pavel Bure
If Pavel Bure had the ability to stay healthy through the entirety of his career, he easily could have ended up being the best sniper in the history of the NHL. Bure was absolutely dominant during his prime years and was always the best player on the ice every game. Head injuries is what ended up killing his career, but he still is a Hall of Famer.
Although Bure was beloved by the majority of NHL fans, Don Cherry went ballistic on Bure and claimed that he demanded an extension with the Canucks or he would end up sitting out Game 7 of the playoffs. This was a very idiotic claim by Cherry because, shortly after, Pat Quinn said that Bure did not do this and that he had no idea where this was coming from.
2 Right: Matt Cooke
Matt Cooke may ultimately be the most hated player to ever be a member of the NHL. Cooke purposely injured players throughout the entirety of his career, yet was able to go through it without many serious suspensions. Cooke was the dirtiest player of his generation and will always be remembered for ruining Marc Savard’s career.
Following the Marc Savard incident, Don Cherry openly spoke about how much of a puke Matt Cooke was and how the league was idiotic on not suspending him. This is probably the most right Cherry has ever been on Coach’s Corner. This hit is the main reason why the NHL now focuses a lot of its attention on head injuries. At the end of the day, every fan can admit Cooke is absolute scum.
1 Wrong: Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr is easily not only the best defenseman in the history of the Boston Bruins, but their best player period. Orr dominated the NHL when he was healthy for ten outstanding seasons and he won the Norris Trophy eight times in a row. Had it not been for his bad knee and hip injuries, Orr would have been able to build on his legacy even more.
There is no doubt that Bobby Orr is one of the top players to ever play the game, but Don Cherry got it wrong when he called him the best. Orr is most likely the second best player, but no one will ever touch Wayne Gretzky’s outstanding ability. Cherry has a bit of a bias toward Orr because he had the chance to coach him, but no one will ever be as good as Gretzky.
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