Don Cherry showed his “national bias” once again during his weekly Coach’s Corner segment, this past Saturday, when he went after Maple Leafs’ rookie defenceman Nikita Zaitsev. See the video here.
Cherry was outraged that Toronto management was working on a long-term contract extension with Zaitsev’s agent. The way Cherry sees it, Zaitsev’s current (antiquated) plus-minus ranking and his limited goal-scoring makes him a horrible investment. Cherry omits the fact that Zaitsev is an NHL rookie who has racked up 31 assists to date, to go along with his 4 goals. That puts Zaitsev in the top 40 amongst NHL defencemen when it comes to scoring points.
But this is the same Don Cherry that delights in showing bizarre video clips of some of the NHL’s weakest players – many of whom are also on long term contracts – not because they are doing anything remotely skillful, but rather because they were born in Canada. Or perhaps the United States when he’s in a good mood. Many of these “good Canadian boys” not only struggled as rookies the way Zaitsev has at times, many of them continue to struggle as veteran bit-players. The double-standard is rather obvious.
Cherry went on to suggest that we should side with him on this because he won Coach of the Year honours in both the AHL and NHL. What Cherry fails to point out is that while coaching in Boston, he was graced with a powerhouse roster that included Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Brad Park etc. and he never won a single championship. But that’s okay, because Don was born in Canada.