Nobody likes physical hockey more than CBC analyst Don Cherry, who has never been shy about sharing his distain for European players who he feels aren’t as tough as those from his native Canada.
But when Cherry talked about the Detroit Red Wings not hitting enough in the first period vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, he wasn’t criticizing them.
He was taking a shot at the National Hockey League for suspending Red Wings’ defenseman Niklas Kronwall for his Game 6 hit on Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov.
“I’m not getting into it,” Cherry said when CBC sidekick Ron MacLean brought up the suspension.
For the record, the Red Wings had an 11-8 edge in hits during the first period but that didn’t stop Cherry from taking a not-so-subtle shot at the NHL for the suspension that left the Red Wings short-handed.
“That is what we used to call a Nolan Ryan – a no-hitter, Cherry said. “They’re afraid now. They’re getting hooking and holding.”
Cherry also suggested that Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos, who has yet to score in the series after finishing second in the NHL with 43 during the regular season, is injured – something Stamkos denies.
“He must be hurt a little bit. He’s staying out” of the slot and away from the net, Cherry said. “I don’t know what it is. I hope he’s not hurt. He’s out too far and I don’t know why he’s out too far. I don’t know why somebody doesn’t tell him you can’t score from a way out there.
“For him to do anything, to do anything for the Stanley Cup, you have to get the 50-goal scorer going.”
Stamkos had one shot in the first period, when the Red Wings had a 14-7 edge in shots during the scoreless opening 20 minutes.
Cherry also criticized the NHL for making the winner of the Detroit-Tampa Bay series come back and play Game 1 of the second round Friday, called the Red Wings’ Mike Babcock the “best coach in hockey” and had kind words for former Red Wings defenseman Marcel Pronovost, who died Sunday at age 84.
“When you talk about a hockey guy, there’s a hockey guy,” Cherry said.