Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cherry barbs deflected by Ovechkin

"As much as I really like the guy, I thought he was wrong," -- Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, outlining where he and Don Cherry part company when it comes to impressions of Alex Ovechkin.

We're not sure exactly why Don Cherry doesn't seem to like Alexander Ovechkin, after all he probably is one of the more physical of the current crop of Russian players in the NHL. He delivers a body check with the ferocity of the legendary Barry Beck, isn't afraid to go into the corners and take his lumps and has embraced the physical traits of the game with little in the way of complaint, all the while as he continues to score goals many of them remarkable efforts destined for the nightly highlight reel.

It of course is the rather exuberant nature that Ovechkin celebrates his success that seems to have stuck in the craw of Mr. Cherry, who went on a wee bit of a diatribe on Saturday on Coach's corner when the the topic of Russian hockey players and Ovechkin in particular came up.

The tone of Cherry's comments so annoyed the Capitals, that head coach Bruce Boudreau took it upon himself to rebut much of the Saturday night commentary on the topic of Ovechkin. While he calls he and Cherry good friends (and Cherry is supposed to do the forward to the upcoming Boudreau autobiography) Boudreau was quick to point out that Cherry just doesn't seem to see the talents and contributions that Ovechkin makes to the Capitals. Suggesting that Cherry was taking his normal pro Canadian role just a little too far in this instance.

For his part, the subject of so much discussion hasn't really had much to say. Ovechkin when asked for a reaction to the Cherry bombs of Saturday said only that "He's a funny guy and old guy. He likes old-fashioned hockey," going further to outline how he has little interest in the wrath of Grapes, "He's not interesting to me, so he can say whatever he wants. I don't care about him,"

The tempest was a hot topic on sport talk shows through the weekend and into Monday, as many pondered the latest commentary from Cherry with many suggesting that he occasionally misses the boat when it comes to his analysis.

On most nights a game featuring Ovechkin is a welcome relief from the tedium of many of the other matches that the NHL is throwing out there this year, you can normally count on a fast pace, more than a few hits and some exciting scoring chances, yes he occasionally over celebrates his goals, but in a league where parity seems to be the goal and the need to turn each roster into almost a carbon copy of the other, the sight of Ovechkin coming over the boards at least offers the promise of a bit of entertainment.

For those that have marvelled at the way that Ovechkin is redefining the game these days, this was probably one of those miss the boat moments for Mr. Cherry.

Globe and Mail-- Boudreau fires back at Cherry
National Post-- Cherry's act beginning to show its age
National Post-- Boudreau defends Ovechkin after Cherry's comments
Vancouver Province-- Cherry totally out of touch
Toronto Star-- Hey, isn't it Cherry-canning season yet?
Philadelphia Daily News-- Ovechkin has no time for a 'funny old guy' like Don Cherry
CBC Sports-- 'Don't care' about Cherry: Ovechkin
Washington Times-- Boudreau: Cherry "over the top"
Detroit Free Press-- War of words: Don Cherry picks a new target

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