NHL hockey is back, and with it NHL hockey’s most colourful commentator.
Canadian icon Don Cherry joined Greg Brady and Jim Lang Monday to discuss the tentative CBA signed by the NHL and NHLPA and voice his thoughts on the Toronto Maple Leafs, among other teams.
Cherry praised the Boston Bruins’ treatment of 19-year-old defenceman Dougie Hamilton, who is expected to see regular minutes in Beantown this season, by contrasting Hamilton’s gradual development with that of Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn, since traded to the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Luke Schenn was handled wrong right from the start,” Cherry said. “You don’t throw an 18-year-old out there to kill penalties, and (former Leafs coach) Ron Wilson kept throwing him out to kill penalties when he wasn’t ready.”
Cherry believes Wilson’s tendency to throw Schenn “to the wolves” early damaged his confidence and he never recovered.
“I almost had tears for the poor kid.”
After he reminded listeners that he guaranteed a shortened season, Cherry addressed the new collective bargaining agreement.
The Coach’s Corner star believes Canadians will come back to the game and that most Americans don’t start paying the NHL much attention until the football season winds down anyway.
“Here in Canada, there will be no problem,” he said. “Are you kidding? They’ll be watching just as much.”
Due to a shortened season, Cherry said the in-camp experimenting with lines will be minimal if nonexistent and fewer youngsters will try out. He believes scrimmages will be more frequent as well.
One team that should benefit from a 48-game schedule, according to Cherry, is the highly scrutinized Leafs.
“Last year they were smoking for the first 40 games. This helps all these little clubs because over the marathon, the big teams will always be there at the end,” Cherry said. “(Goaltender James) Reimer gets hot, they could go a long way with this guy.”
During his 11-minute chat, Cherry touched on a variety of hockey topics he’s passionate about, including Canada’s fourth-place performance at the world juniors (“To me, it’s gold or nothing”); Nazem Kadri (“Who else has got the hands he’s got?”); the playoff chances for all seven Canadian NHL teams (Winnipeg out, Calgary and Montreal in); and the Los Angeles Kings’ shot at repeating as Stanley Cup champions.
Cherry, who has reminded listeners that he too has gone unpaid during the lockout, is expected to return to television on Jan. 19, the likely start date for the 2013 NHL season.