VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks are not whining over criticism from CBC’s Don Cherry that the NHL team is disliked because the players whine at officials.
“That stuff doesn’t really matter to us,” defenceman Kevin Bieksa said Monday after a Canucks’ practice. “What matters is what’s inside this room.”
Canuck captain Henrik Sedin fired a shot back at Cherry.
“He’s on TV to get some audience,” said Sedin. “He’s said a few things that are borderline the last couple of weeks.
“I don’t think anyone that likes hockey or a player really listens to what he says. We are focused on winning hockey games.”
Canuck forward Alex Burrows said Cherry is entitled to his opinion.
“We don’t really care what people say about us on the outside,” said Burrows.
“Obviously Don Cherry, we have a lot of respect for what he’s done through the years. We try to focus on what we have to do.”
Cherry made his comments during Saturday’s ”Coach’s Corner” segment on Hockey Night in Canada. The Stanley Cup finalist Canucks have started the season playing .500 hockey but Cherry said fans are wrong to lay all the blame on goaltender Roberto Luongo.
“Why does everyone hate Vancouver?” Cherry asked.
He then showed several clips of Canuck players complaining to on-ice officials.
“Stop whining,” Cherry said. “Start paying the price.
“Quit blaming the goaltenders and you’ll start winning again.”
The Canucks beat the Washington Capitals 7-4 Saturday night. Forward Ryan Kesler said Cherry’s rant wasn’t an inspiration.
“No, definitely not,” said Kesler. “We don’t watch that guy in this locker room.”
Bieksa said it’s not the first time the Canucks have been labelled the most disliked team in the NHL.
“We have been asked this question a few times about being the most hated team in hockey,” he said.
“My first answer always is ‘who cares?’ My second answer is ‘are we really?’ I don’t really pay enough attention.”
Bieksa admitted that in the past the Canucks have been guilty of complaining to officials too often.
“It’s something that hurt us in the past,” he said. “It hurt us a couple of years ago in the playoffs.
“We took note of it and corrected it last season. We were very good last season and this year we have been pretty good. We’re not perfect. There are slip ups. It’s an emotional game. We are getting better.”
Cherry raised eyebrows earlier this season when he called three former NHL enforcers “pukes” and “turncoats” for their comments about not wanting current players to make a living as fighters.
Cherry later apologized for his remarks.