Don Cherry has a soft spot for an underdog story.
He is fond of players who are able to overcome adversity in their hockey careers and this week on Coach’s Corner, Cherry took time to praise Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who bounced around the league before securing his current job as an NHL starter.
“He went to Edmonton. He went to the ECHL. He went down to the American Hockey League and they thought he was down and out,” Cherry told co-host Ron MacLean. “He went to Montreal and they got rid of him. Nashville got rid of him. Arizona got rid of him. And (Chuck) Fletcher got him for a third-round pick.
“And since he’s come to Minnesota, he’s won two-thirds of his games if you can believe it. He is the guy.”
The Wild took a risk when they bet on Dubnyk this past summer, handing him a six-year contract worth $26 million as a UFA following a strong 39-game run with the club last season.
Thus far, the investment has paid off as Dubnyk is having one of the best seasons of his NHL career, posting a 30-22-6 record with a .919 save percentage and a 2.35 goals-against average in 60 games.
It’s a drastic change for a goalie who was essentially run out of Edmonton after he struggled in a tough 2013-14 season, registering an .894 save percentage in 32 games. He was drafted 14th overall by the Oilers in 2004.
Cherry believes there’s a lesson in how Dubnyk has been able to turn his career around.
“I love to see a guy who’s down and out,” he said. “So kids, never quit no matter how down you are, so you can come back like Devan.”