GUELPH, Ont. – Don Cherry doesn’t think European players should be allowed to play in the Canadian Hockey League.
Speaking to the media before Thursday night’s CHL Top Prospects game, Cherry was asked what he thought about Europeans coming to North America to gain experience.
"I’m not happy for that, to be truthful," said Cherry, who is coaching one of the teams for the CHL showcase event. "I’m supposed to say, ‘Here, yes, we’re a wonderful country and accept everybody here.’
"What happens is, if you look at it, there’s a Canadian kid not playing. No matter how you cut the mustard, I said this a long time ago and we have it now in bantam, we have them coming over in bantams, if you can believe it. We have them in minor midget as I go all the time and they’re very rich when they come over and you’re asking me, ‘Do I believe in Europeans playing in (the) Canadian Hockey League?’ No. I don’t."
Barrie Colts winger Andrei Svechnikov of Russia and Halifax Mooseheads forward Filip Zadina of the Czech Republic are the top two North American skaters ranked by NHL Central Scouting for June’s draft.
Current rules allow CHL clubs to carry two European import players on its roster each season.
The group Cherry coached Thursday had six European skaters who all joined the CHL through the import draft.
Sudbury Wolves forward Kirill Nizhnikov, a member of Team Orr, left his hometown of Moskva, Russia as a 14-year-old and played bantam and midget hockey in the Greater Toronto Area before being selected in the first round of the 2016 OHL Priority selection by the Mississauga Steelheads.
Cherry, 83, is considered a builder of the annual CHL Top Prospects game and is coaching in the event for the 17th time.