I’m not a fan of Don Cherry. Nor am I fond of Brian Burke. But it never surprises me to see either of these big-shot hockey experts in the news. Their giant egos won’t allow them otherwise - which is what happened recently, when Cherry said that Burke tried to get him fired from the CBC. The childish Cherry also suggested the USA-born Burke, in his job as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs, favoured American players over Ontarians.
My beef with the overbearing Cherry is not only about him - I think there is something wrong with my national broadcaster paying so much money (reportedly in the $800,000/year range) to a bigot with an economic interest in keeping the game violent, in an era when the emphasis is on speed and skill (Google twenty years of ‘Rock’em Sock’em Hockey’ if you don’t know what I mean by ‘economic interest’).
And I believe Brian Burke is a bully - that there truly are men involved in the game “who will do anything to win”, the often quoted proverb that hockey people and fans use as a term of respect, never stopping to consider how such use of the word “anything”, should be threatening to all (He’ll do anything to anybody? Apparently).
But what I did like about Cherry’s rant was the pride he demonstrated on behalf of Ontario-born boys. Because as I’ve stated in this space before, very few Ontario people show support for what has historically been Canada’s most powerful province. Compared to, say, the way Newfoundlanders modestly celebrate their splendid island in the sea, its colourful culture, and hard-working history. Or the humble way they frequently follow Newfoundland boys currently playing with NHL clubs – lads like Teddy Purcell, Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe, Daniel Cleary, Colin Greening, Luke Adam and Adam Pardy.
After three seasons in Los Angeles, the 26-year-old Purcell, born in St. John’s, is having a career year with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bonavista born Ryder, 31, is playing great for the Dallas Stars after spending several seasons in Boston and Montreal, where the last-place Canadiens could use his toughness today.
Speaking of toughness, while the 29-year old Clowe’s point total is slightly off his pace from last year, the career San Jose Shark, from the Irish loop’s Fermeuse, continues to show he’s one of the game’s top leaders. As does Daniel Cleary, 33, born in Carbonear but raised in Harbour Grace who, following stops in Chicago, Edmonton, and Phoenix, is still a strong force on a fabulous Detroit Red Wing club.
St. John’s Greening, 26, is technically still a rookie, having played in only 24 big league games for Ottawa last winter after an incredible academic and volunteer career at Cornell University. But showing maturity beyond his hockey playing history, Colin is doing an excellent job for the resurgent Senators. Another St. John’s-born rookie, the Buffalo Sabres’ Luke Adam, only 21, also represents his province proudly. As does the 27-year old Bonavista-born Alan Pardy who, after three seasons in Calgary, now plays defence in Dallas where despite being plagued by injuries this season, Pardy still fills an important role for the playoff bound Stars.
All of which serves to please me that there are some fine Newfoundland NHL hockey players for us to cheer for, without anyone on the island having to embarrass himself on the national stage like some big-shot, ego-driven hockey experts do, every Saturday night.