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.
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.