Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Some Weasel, Some Sisters


One of the most annoying things about Don Cherry is his habit of reminding viewers how smart he is when one of his predictions hits the mark. “I told you so” does not work very well in the pundit business. First, he is supposed to be right, so it isn’t a very impressive claim. Second, bragging when he is right kind of obligates him to confess his errors, too, doesn’t it?

On the eve of the retirement of Pavel Bure’s number on Hockey Night in Canada and the day that the Sedins inked a spiffy new rich (and richly deserved) contract, I can’t help pointing that Don Cherry was wrong about Pavel Bure and he was wrong about the Sedins. And he wasn’t a little bit wrong. He was off by a million miles on all of them. We don’t have to wonder whether that will be a subject on Coach’s Corner tomorrow night, do we?

Even before the Pavel Bure Stanley Cup holdout slander – that was the one Quinn raged about, while Bure responded with “Would I comment on the clowns in the circus?” – Don called Pavel a little weasel of a player and generally slagged him every chance he got. He did not say a single nice thing about him or his play until Pavel blew out his knee.

He’s been a little more restrained with the Sedins, but not much. He criticised the Canucks for drafting them and he has called them the Sedin Sisters and the Bobbsey Twins. He may have said something nice about them during their Stanley Cup run, but if he did I can’t recall it. John Tortorella probably wasn’t talking specifically about Don Cherry when he went on his rant about the Sedins, but he might as well have been pointing directly at him.

“I’m not sure who started it but I’m sure there are a couple of know-it-alls out there who always talk about it. But they don’t have a clue what these guys are about. In our league, I think we act like idiots sometimes when that (stuff) sticks with them after you watch them play… These aren’t soft people. These aren’t soft players.

“I’ve had the honour, in this short time, to be with them, up close and personal and see how hard they work and see what they do on the ice. It pisses me off, the reputation that’s still out there. It’s so undeserving and so disrespectful.”

Pavel’s in the Hall of Fame and tomorrow night his number goes into the rafters. And it won’t be too many years down the road when Daniel and Henrik garner the same honours.

That’s some weasel and pretty spectacular sisters, eh, Don?

Full Disclosure: I was right about Pavel from his very first game. I usually like to see a player play at least 40 games before I really judge his ability. Bure impressed me with his first shift and sold me after his first game. I spent years defending every aspect of his play. I’ve been a fan for more than 50 years and he is one of the best players I’ve ever seen. He is the most entertaining player I’ve ever seen.

I was wrong about the Sedins. I never doubted that they were NHL players but I did not like the fact that they are not good skaters and they do not shoot particularly well. Can they manage the puck into the net often enough to be real stars? Not likely, I thought. Good, but not great, I said.

Many people told me that I was wrong, but I did not listen to them. The only thing I will say in my defense is that I never doubted their courage, effort or attitude. I would never call them names. I was wrong, but I don’t have anything to be ashamed about.

Update: Well, I’ll be damned.

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3 Responses to “Some Weasel, Some Sisters”
  1. beingbobbyorr says:

    I still kick myself for not having gone to EVERY Vancouver at LA (or Anaheim) game in the 1990’s. I finally woke up and caught all his SoCal visits in a Panther uni, but still . . . to have missed out on his prime years is a regret.

    Any idea what percent of the Vancouver fanbase still holds a grudge regarding his 1998-99 holdout? i.e., How many boos could we expect when he takes to the microphone? Rob Blake had a contentious contract year in 2000-01 (that eventually worked out with a trade that was win-win for him & the Kings), but there remain to this day fans who vilify him (“He ripped off the ‘C’!”) and vow to cease going to Staples Center if/when they retire his jersey. I long ago gave up trying to remind them that this is foremost a business and that players are (properly) loyal to (1) their family, (2) the other 22 guys on whatever roster they find themselves on, (3) their country, . . . . . (163) any given franchise (laundry and geography).

    It’s not surprising that uninformed fans in the stands think that they can measure heart and effort with their eyes (our judgement of a player’s skating speed is polluted by how fast their legs churn, which doesn’t necessarily correlate with dx/dt velocity), but to have supposedly experienced hockey people indulging in such faulty, biased thinking is a disservice to the sport . . . . and if Canadians are as bat-shit crazy about hockey as they claim to be, they should vote with their remote control and tune out HNIC until the CBC installs someone in DC’s position who can show more respect for it and deliver real insight (instead of self-aggrandizing, pompous buffoonery).

  2. James Mirtle says:

    The criticism the Sedins got in the early years in Vancouver wasn’t much better or much less xenophobic. The call-in shows in those years were hard to listen to because you could see them improving yearly and zooming past an aging Naslund in terms of on-ice impact.

    They’re also the quintessential possession players: cycle the puck, out chance your opposition, tire them out, and eventually you’ll be ahead on the scoreboard. (For those of us that believe in such things.)

    • Tom says:

      In Vancouver, the Sedins got it worse by a mile. Pavel was a star immediately, so flaws were ignored for the most part. The Sedins were not stars. (And the call-in shows are always impossible to listen too.) But Cherry was the xenophobic champ. Hockey can bring out the worst in Canadians and I wasted a lot of time on the subject when the Europeans first invaded. Everything Cherry ever said about Bure was bad. Larscheid tried to tell him he was wrong – even took some money off him – but Cherry didn’t change his tune until Pavel wrecked his knee.

      I didn’t know what to make of the Saturday Night show. Were they responding to me? That’s weird. The defense was pretty weird too. Tortorella was not trying to fire up the Sedins. He was responding directly to a question following the contract signing.

      They’re also the quintessential possession players: cycle the puck, out chance your opposition, tire them out, and eventually you’ll be ahead on the scoreboard. (For those of us that believe in such things.)

      Those of us who don’t believe in such things believe in puck movement. Is there anyone better at moving the puck that Daniel and Henrik?

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