Cherry Rips Lucic and The Bruins

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Well, Don Cherry was in town this evening dropping the ceremonial first puck during the Bruins – Toronto game at the Garden and, as usual, he had a lot to say. Notably, during the first intermission while sitting in studio with Kathryn Tappen and Mike Milbury on NESN, he went on a bit of a rant concerning the following two fights which took place essentially back to back early in the 1st period. First Milan Lucic vs. Colton Orr, then Shawn Thornton vs. Wayne Primeau.

Take a gander.

Cherry’s rant (I have audio on it thanks to my man Gonz but no video yet) had two distinct targets. First Shawn Thornton taking on a “non-fighter” in Primeau which, according to Grapes, he did because he was embarrassed about the way Lucic handled himself in the fight with Orr. Secondly, his impression that Lucic quit in the fight. Here’s some transcription for you that addresses both.

Cherry on Thornton vs. Primeau:

Why would Thornton drop the gloves with a guy that doesn’t even fight in Wayne Primeau? He doesn’t fight at all, he’s just a player, not bad, and your best fighter drops ’em. Why? I’m going to tell you why. Because Thornton right after was embarrassed of this fight comin’ up.

Cherry on Lucic vs. Orr:

Now Lucic, he’s a good hockey player but if you’re gonna fight you don’t quit. He’s talking to the linesman to come on in. You don’t talk to linesman to come on in. You go out on your shield. Look he’s backin’ up, he wants to go again. If you’re gonna fight… He’s hiding behind the linesman. That’s a disgrace to the Boston Bruins as far as I’m concerned.

First off, Don, it’s pronounced “looch-ich”. Not “loose-ick”. Just so you know. But that sort of ignorance is neither here nor there.

Let’s get to the meat of the thing. I’ve watched the fight repeatedly. I’m not going to be a homer about this, either. People will attest to my disappointment with Milan Lucic this year in this very arena. With his lack of snarl, his lack of inspirational play, his lack of fighting of late. I admit love Milan Lucic’s game when he’s on but I’m no sycophantic fanboy. We strive to tell it like it is here at HGW.

Lucic challenges Orr. That much seems clear to me. He goes looking for it against one of the most feared punchers in the game and for that I give him credit. They trade some heavy shots at first then Looch starts getting tagged. Gets one right on the beak that stuns him and he starts leaking. Starts taking a lot more and is in obvious pain and starts to tie up a bit. During the struggle they separate awkwardly and you can see Lucic is still willing if necessary but has had his share, really, and needs a few repairs. Fight over. Looch loses but it’s a pretty good heavyweight bout.

Not once did I see him calling the linesmen to come in.

Not once did I see him hiding behind the linesmen.

If he quit at all it was because he’d been hurt in the fight and had enough. Watch a few more Lucic fights and you’ll see guys on the other side of things doing exactly that, as well. Sometimes, you have to know when the fight is over if you want to live to fight another day. No shame in it.

Not according to Don, though. He thought is was a “disgrace”. An overreaction by Cherry, for sure, a stupid statement, perhaps. Certainly a misjudgement of what happened on the ice, I think. Looch stood tall tonight an played one of his best, most impactful games of the season and challenging Orr was part of it. Respect for stepping up, kid.

On the Thornton thing, well, Grapes is wrong again I do believe. First calling Primeau a non-fighter is flat out inaccurate. He’s had his share of scraps as we here in Boston know well from his time here. He’s got a bit of jam to his game and isn’t too shy. At 6-4 230 he’s bigger than Thornton. 39 career fights in total with opponents like Adam Mair, Steve Montador, Luke Richardson, Chris Simon and, the most famous, his brother Keith. Hardly a Lady Byng candidate folks.

shawn thornton wayne primeau

Does this look like the stance of a non-fighter to you?

Thornton wasn’t going with him because he was “embarrassed”. He knows damn well Lucic can take care of himself but he also knows that the job of taking on Colton Orr should be his. I think he felt left out and resented Orr for going with Lucic instead of him. I’ve seen them chatting on the ice in other B’s Leafs games when Orr would get rough with guys and I have no doubt the theme of the conversation was something like, “Listen, Colton. If you want someone in this game, that someone is me. I’m your huckleberry.”

So Thornton saw Looch lose to Orr, knowing it should have been him in that scrap and wanted to do his job, whichis to swing momentum the Bruins way. Looks like he challenged the next obvious candidate on the ice for Toronto on the ensuing face-off and Primeau was willing. Looks like he even positioned himself at the center spot to do so. I kind of like that sort of moxie. And I like Wayne Primeau for saying “yes”.

All part of the code and the game we love. No harm, no foul.

There was a lot more to Cherry’s rant about the Bruins lack of hitting that was more lucid, at one point saying to Julien, “Claude, If you can’t get ’em to score, at least get him to hit.” That stuff was fine, he was talking about the B’s getting blown out by Montreal and the fact that they needed some snarl against Toronto which, I think, they did show before it was done. Managed to win the game in a shoot-out, too.

The stuff about Lucic and Thornton is off base, though, and a bit shrill. I understand you thought your old team wasn’t playing by the code but you need to know that these are two guys who know and play by the code more than anyone I’ve seen in a long, long time. If you’d have calmed down, looked at the video more closely and thought about it, you would have realized you went a bit overboard.

But, hey. That’s what Don Cherry does, right? Whether it’s his mouth or his clothes.

They’re both loud.

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12 Responses to “Cherry Rips Lucic and The Bruins”

  1. John Says:

    You do know Cherry loves his Canadian boys especially tough guys. In fact, he lauded Team Canada inviting Lucic to the camp, although he clearly did not make the team. So for Cherry to rip into Lucic like he did, he obviously saw somethings that he thought were disgraceful…And sorry to say, he is 100% right. It is clear Lucic gave up in the fight after getting tagged, and did not want to continue. He did in fact say something to the ref and he did in fact hide behind the linesman when Orr was still trying to get at him. How you can not see that is beyond me. There is a reason why Lucic picks his spots and usually does not fight the top tough guys, and this was the reason. So yes, Cherry was 100% right and if you cannot see that then you need to take off your black and gold glasses…

  2. Ken Socrates Says:

    I do own a nice pair of black & gold glasses as well as a cute lacey black & gold thong but, trust me, I’m not wearing them on this one. I’ve watched the video over and over. I’m trying to be as objective as possible on this.

    Yeah, Grapes loves his Canadian boys. He’s known every one of them since they were fourteen, right? He lauded Team Canada for inviting Lucic to camp but he can’t even pronounce his name correctly.

    Cherry’s reaction to this is purely emotional and I understand it. It’s just not informed. I don’t think he watched the video closely enough before he went ranting on air. He saw it live and he didn’t like what he saw. Nor did I. I saw a Bruin lose a fight. I didn’t see anything “disgraceful” though. Lucic was hurt, maybe hurt badly by those shots. Should he stand in there until he gets knocked out? It’s the linesmen’s job to see when a guy is hurt and jump in there. Lucic was trying to tie up and they should have got in there.

    Is it time to consider, folks, that, when it comes to Don Cherry, the Emperor may not have any clothes? I know, I know. He owns a few clown suits. But does he own any actual clothes?

    In what other sport would a guy with minimal analytical skills and and apparent middle school education be allowed to dress up like a rodeo clown and hoot cliches and nationalistic jargon at the audience and be taken seriously? Can you see anyone on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight doing an act like this and not laughed off the set? NFL Today? Take John Kruk and John Madden and Charles Barkley and mix them together and it’s still not as much a ridiculous cartoon caricature as Grapes’ act.

    Is it just wind and noise at this point? Is he little more than a one note blowhard. Maybe it’s not that bad but let’s be honest, folks. There’s always been something a little embarrassing about Don Cherry. At least to folks living outside Canadian borders.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of what he has to say about tough hockey. That’s our thing, here, as you know. But what he said last night was flat out wrong and more than a little unfair to a kid who just went toe to toe with a drop dead punching machine named Colton Orr.

    And lost. Is that a crime?

  3. ledge Says:

    Lucis did say that’s enough if you read his lips. He isn’t the same player and the team has suffered because of it. Last year or earlier in the season ha would have handled Orr. He has lost confidence due to injury and is not nearly as aggressive as he was.

  4. Ken Socrates Says:

    He would never have handled Orr. Never. When will people realize this about Lucic? He’s not a league heavyweight. He shouldn’t be expected to fight Colton Orr. Or Jody Shelley. Or Derek Boogaard. Or Georges Laraque. These guys have a role in the league and exist in a class above where Lucic is as a fighter and that’s just the way it is. He projects to be a top 6 forward who can score a few goals and drop his gloves once in a while to give himself room and boost the team.

    If you want him to go with the heavies, you’re wasting what he is, what his potential is. You want him to get KO’d and get his face smashed in by a 0-goal, fourth line, 6 minute a game paid killer like Orr? Think about it, people.

    Now, that said, yes, he hasn’t been quite the same player this year, for whatever reason and it’s hurt the Bruins. And he knows it. And that’s probably what led him to seek out and challenge Orr. He’s heard all the fan and media rumblings and this was his way of answering I think. Gotta give the kid a little cred it for that, at least.

  5. Ozzy McGurt Says:

    Ok, so let me step in between an obvious Canadian and Ken, a known and well documented rabid Bruins fan. I watched the game last night and saw the fight, but was thankfully busy while Grapes was on the air. I think Ken hits closer to the head on this one than Cherry. Lucic obviously got hurt by one or more punches. He was done. He says something, but there’s no way to tell who he was talking to. He may have been saying “That’s enough” to the linesman, or he may have been saying “That fucking hurt” to Orr. No matter, he was done. He couldn’t tie up Orr, so he backed off and tried to circle when the linesman stepped in between them. I don’t see anything that shows me Lucic was trying to hide behind him.

    Ken’s assessment of Lucic is dead on. He’s not a goon, just a tough player. He’s not an enforcer. He has lost something since the injury, and that sucks, but props to him for stepping up to Orr.

    As for Grapes, I love the guy, but yeah, he’s a clown. His job is to get folks fired up and talking. He’s almost in the same league as a lot of talk radio ‘shock jocks’. He purposely says things to cause controversy. You can’t take anything he says too seriously. Thankfully he’s not the NHL commissioner. Everything’s ok. Calm down. Nothing to see here.

  6. ledge Says:

    I’m not saying he could beat Orr, I’m saying the old Lucic would have handled him. What happened to that guy that put Van Rynn through the glass and pummeled moderate heavy weights like Neil and Jackman? His surgically repaired finger and high ankle sprain have changed his psyche. He needs to get that fearless style of play back, otherwise he isn’t helping this team.

  7. nightfly Says:

    You said it all right up-front, my man… Cherry loves his Canadian boys. In this case, it means his Toronto boys. He was digging Looch because he’s a complete homer. He’s not the first, he won’t be the last – although he will certainly be the strangest-dressed. I mean, even this guy thinks Cherry’s wardrobe is over-the-top.

    As far as Looch somehow failing the code, I say piffle, and even if he did say “No mas, eh?” Part of the code is recognizing that your opponent is hurt, that he gave you a good fight, and then laying off. Orr probably has no problem with it. No heavyweight would. The idea is to intimidate and to stand up for your team, not to injure another guy.

    At least you guys have some size and toughness. A cardboard cutout of Gary Howatt would be a better enforcer than anything the Islanders currently have on their roster.

  8. Ken Socrates Says:

    Thanks for the support, Oz (Barbarian Hockey!), but no worries. These are our people, here. This is the discussion we want. It’s is a great topic and I hope more folks will chime in on either side of things. Ledge is right about Lucic handling the medium heavies (though Barret Jackman isn’t one of those) like he did and that he doesn’t seem to have that same gung ho attitude we learned to appreciate. He’s taken a few pops. Jared Boll landed a couple on him earlier this year.

    What I’m saying is he doesn’t need to get in with the big heavies, though. He has nothing to gain doing that, really. If you want him to develop as a power forward, the last thing you need is him getting crunched night in and night out by the league’s biggest sluggers.

    Because that’s exactly the sort of thing that will kill his confidence even more.

    Good point, too, ‘fly. As much as I admire a guy like Orr’s abilities, he is a bit scary. There was bloodlust there at the end and he failed to appreciate that Lucic was trying to tie up. A guy in an honest square off tries to tie up, you have to recognize he’s done. Unless there’s some nasty bad blood and a score to be settled and I don’t think that’s the case here.

  9. ledge Says:

    When Milan wouldn’t fight Larouque I know Julien ordered him not to engage. I wasn’t sure if it was due to injury of the hand, or maybe as Ken said he’s a guy that loses confidence easily and fighting George was what Claude was afraid of. This team won’t regain the confidence it had last year until Milan or someone else starts opening up ice and making opposing players think twice about going into the corner without trepidation. Phil Kessel not being there isn’t the main problem with this team. Numbers are down for many players and hard hitting intimidates , takes other teams off their game and injects confidence in your own game offensively and defensively.

  10. Ken Socrates Says:

    Good points all, Ledge. Remember the spirit of unity, all for one, one for all, the nastiness and snarl on the ice, we saw in the Canadiens’ series last year and before? Where has that gone? It’s something they really need to figure out. The losses of P.J. Axelsson, Aaron Ward and Steve Montador can’t account for all of it.

  11. hank Says:

    well ken i kind of disagree with you on one point, if milan was a 100% i think he could take orr, not saying he needs to but i think he could. look at it this way. season one, lucic faught boll and just destroyed him, i mean destroyed him. this year lucic is at what lets say 60-70% and didn’t do great against boll. lucic fights orr and i would say he did pretty well. have you seen the slow motion video, well look it up and you will see a lot of orr’s punches missed, yeah he connected with a a couple nothing dangerous, it was that one punch that got him, and not sure if anyone here has suufered a broken nose but it sucks, your eyes water and you can’t see. i’m not being a homer but this is true, you look when they seperate, lucic is the one waiving his hands to orr to come on…look close because he does, i don’t think he wanted to keep go but he was willing. never once did he hide. is lucic a heavy weight???no, but can he beat heavies i think so. if lucic does well against orr at lets say 70% what would the old angry lucic be like? different story. lucic at 100% has great hands hits hard and is great boxer, look up his amature boxing matches on youtube, orr is a cement head who is wild and can easily be knocked out and thats a fact…a strong lucic would have gone to the end and i think would have come out better. i stand by my word and belive this to be accurate, other than that ken you are 100% correct good post.

    as for john i am so glad you were on the ice to know what lucic was saying, listen to what you wrote…your a tool!! he did infact talk the refs…blah blah blah, you are obviously clueless because the linesman are the ones that break up the fights, big difference. you would know that if you got past pee wee hockey but instead you just watch because you couldn’t play!!

  12. Ken Socrates Says:

    Thanks for the comments, Hank. You bring up a good point in that Boll fight. It was the perfect example of the change we’ve seen in Lucic’s game this season. In past season’s he’s fought with a sort of fierceness and anger that was explosive and he killed people. Even earlier this season, against Neil and Harrison, he had that fire. Then he got hurt a few times and it changed. Against Boll he looked disinterested, almost annoyed to be fighting. Like his heart wasn’t in it and Boll had the edge. Big difference.

    Let’s be honest, too. Orr is an animal. One of the top two or three most dangerous punchers in the league. He breaks faces for a living. Looch hung in for a good bit and was willing and that’s good enough for me. At 100% maybe he doesn’t get tagged as much but it’s likely still a losing proposition.

    Don’t worry about John, by the way. He went round and copied and pasted those exact same comments on other web sites. I suspect it might be a Canadiens disinformation campaign. He can post Go Bruins as much as he wants but I’m pretty sure he’s actully a fan of The Montreal Men’s Skating Choir if you know what I mean.

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