Some issues can’t wait until Saturday night.
Passionate about an incident that occurred during the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 thrashing of the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre, Don Cherry called in to Hockey Central at Noon Thursday adamant that Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf should have fought Montreal Canadiens tough guy Brandon Prust when challenged.
“Dion runs around and bangs and smashes and looks for trouble,” Cherry said. “I knew they were going to lose when he didn’t answer the bell.”
Cherry, a former scrapper himself, maintained that Phaneuf doesn’t have to fight every night but there is a time to stand up, and Phaneuf missed that chance.
“There is a time when you have to answer the bell. When he turned (Prust) down and made him look ridiculed, they went to the bench and Prust was laughing on the bench,” the Coach’s Corner analyst went on. “You cannot go after the lightweights; (Phaneuf) goes after the lightweights when he fights.
“Once in a while you have to drop the gloves with a tough guy.”
Watch: Brandan Prust wants to drop the gloves with Dion Phaneuf, who refuses the invitation
With the Leafs killing off a five-minute major to Mike Brown, Phaneuf (6’3”, 218 pounds) and Prust (6’2”, 192 pounds) traded a few pushes and stick taps. Prust dropped his stick and left glove, urging the Leafs captain to fight. Phaneuf refused the challenge. He kicked Prust’s glove back to him and skated away.
Hockey Central’s Doug MacLean argued with Cherry, saying that Phaneuf should fight on occasion but made the wise choice in declining a heavyweight like Prust. MacLean also questioned Prust for not picking a fight with Colton Orr instead.
The bruising Prust fought 20 times last season, when he played for the New York Rangers, and has already exchanged blows six times in this young season.
Phaneuf, who has yet to drop the gloves in 21 games this season, fought thrice in 2011-12. According to hockeyfights.com, a site that polls all scraps, the Leafs captain lost narrowly to Nick Foligno and David Clarkson last season; his bout with Scott Hartnell was voted a draw.
Even with Phaneuf directing his focus on hits and playing time, the Leafs lead the league in fights and penalty minutes.
Not since 2007-08, when he fought 10 times and only lost three times, has Phaneuf fought more than four times in a single season.
“He’s bigger, and he could beat Prust. Because when he wants to go, he’s one of the best,” Cherry said of Phaneuf. “There’s a certain time you have to go, and that was one last night. If he had’ve taken Prust, I really believe they would’ve won the game.”
Renowned Buffalo Sabres tough guy turned analyst Rob Ray, who was scheduled to appear on Thursday’s program, added his two cents to the Phaneuf-Prust debate later in the program.
“Step up. Why not?” Ray said of Phaneuf. “He’s not going to get hurt. He can handle himself.”