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Cherry Pickin'

Cherry Pickin' – Tearing the Leafs apart for drafting 'kids from foreign lands'

QMI Agency

Don Cherry went on a rant for the ages about the Toronto Maple Leafs draft choices on Saturday. (QMI Agency)

Don Cherry went on a rant for the ages about the Toronto Maple Leafs draft choices on Saturday. (QMI Agency)

Welcome to Cherry Pickin’, where we at QMI Agency analyze Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada each week.

If you were afraid Rogers might turn down the voltage on Don Cherry and Coach’s Corner, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Grapes was firing on all cylinders Saturday night, his first segment under the telecom’s banner since it acquired control of Hockey Night in Canada along with national NHL broadcast rights.

Simply put, Cherry tore the Toronto Maple Leafs a new one for picking only European and American players in the 2014 draft.

No Canadians? Blasphemous!

Here’s a breakdown of this week’s episode (video below):

  • Let’s begin with the getup. For his suit: shaded maps of Canada in blue, spotted with Canadian flags. His tie: white with blue maple leaves. Because he’s a “Maple Leaf guy.”
  • Cherry butters up to Leafs president Brendan Shanahan: “I own season seats. I walk the walk. Ever since I was a little boy I’ve been a Maple Leaf fan and I want them to do good. Brendan, I know you’re watching right now. I just want you to know.”
  • Before he proceeds to tear the team down: “The L.A. Kings, the Stanley Cup champions, drafted seven guys from the OHL. You know how many Canadians the Maple Leafs drafted? Zero. The only other team in the National Hockey League that didn’t draft a Canadian was the other loser, Washington.” L.A. did in fact draft seven players from the OHL but one of them is Finnish.
  • A potshot at Leafs first-rounder William Nylander: “Who did they pick? They picked that little guy. We won’t say who it is. They sent him back to Sweden to save his life.”
  • On the Leafs’ apparent inability to attract free agents: “No guy that is a star will ever come here. Nobody will come here to Toronto. Why would you? For various reasons I won’t go into. So you have to (build) through the draft. They have not had an impact guy since Wendel Clark.”
  • Ron MacLean finally gets a word in: “Could Nylander turn out to be, let’s say, Kopitar?” Cherry: “Kopitar is 6-foot-2. What they need on this team is a big, tough winger. They don’t need another little, wee forward. They’ve got enough of those guys.” Nylander, for the record, is 5-foot-11.
  • Cherry caps his point: “(The Kings) are full of Canadians. Full of guys from the OHL and GTHL (Greater Toronto Hockey League), too, and they win two out of three (of the last NHL championships). On the other hand, we have the Leafs, who have made the playoffs once in 14 years and they draft U.S. college guys and they draft a Swinn and a Fede ... Everybody asks me why the Leafs are where they are right now. The only impact guy they’ve ever drafted is Wendel Clark in the past 18 years.” Yes, he actually said “Swinn” and “Fede” – that’s how fired up he was. Also, the Leafs have made the playoffs once in the last nine seasons, not 14 as Cherry stated.
  • A parting shot as the segment ends: “I watch all these kids in the GTHL and they don’t have a chance to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, because they come from Toronto. Forty-thousand kids in the GTHL, more junior clubs around Toronto than any place in the world and (the Leafs) draft kids from foreign lands. That’s why the Leafs are like they are and will be for a long time.”

Our own Steve Simmons pointed out the following during the segment regarding L.A.'s best players.

This was definitely a Coach’s Corner for the ages.


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