Cherry joined Brett Hull and host Bill Clement for the second intermission show on NBC during its Game 4 broadcast of the Stanley Cup final between Ottawa and Anaheim, and made some arguments – loudly – that are very familiar to regular watchers of his Coach’s Corner segment on the CBC.
One of his favourites – the instigator penalty – came up when the panel discussed Daniel Alfredsson’s role in a scrum at the end of the second period and Clement asked Cherry how to prevent such incidents.
“Can I talk about that one? All right,” Cherry said, revving up. “If I was commissioner, I’d like to get hold of the guy who put in the instigator rule … The fans love the fights, the players love the fights, the people go nuts on the fights and I have to laugh … but I’m told the reason they cut it down was because they wanted USA people to watch it. Can you believe that?
“That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. U.S., NASCAR where there’s crashes, football kill the quarterback, ultimate fighting, who’s kidding who?”
Hull egged him on, by saying fighting is “the most honourable, honest part of hockey from Day 1.”
To back up his arguments, Cherry went back to his days as coach of the Colorado Rockies and recalled how attendance when the Stanley Cup champions would visit was 14,000, while the rough-and-tumble Philadelphia Flyers would draw, “16,500 with 2,000 waiting outside.”
“The National Hockey League and NBC and everybody in U.S. television is making a big mistake,” Cherry added. “They should go back to rock ’em sock ’em. …
“I think it would help the game and help your audiences.”
Hull, who appeared on Coach’s Corner during Game 3, later railed against visors and big equipment, something Cherry blamed for the damage Chris Pronger’s elbow inflicted on Ottawa centre Dean McAmmond in Game 3.
After avoiding the topic on his Coach’s Corner segment, Cherry tackled the suspension controversy on NBC.
“I’m going to get in trouble here, I didn’t say this on my show, no I don’t think (Pronger should have been suspended),” Cherry said. “But did I think he would? Yeah, because he’s a repeat offender.”
During his usual appearance on the Coach’s Corner after the first period Monday, Cherry focused more on the modern elbow pad.
“I don’t want to get into it but I just want to show you something,” Cherry said, holding up an elbow pad with a hard plastic covering. “He hardly hit him, hit on the neck … and Pronger wears big elbow pads.”
Cherry proceeded to hold up an old-style elbow pad, with just soft cushioning to cover the elbow joint. It was a fraction of the size of the modern pad.
“Isn’t this absolutely ridiculous?” he shouted. “… They got to do something about that equipment.”