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Proteau's Blog: Choking on Cherry

• After Don Cherry's latest attempt at promoting violence Saturday night, I'm still having trouble holding down solid food.

Following the Maple Leafs' 4-1 win over Buffalo, Cherry implied Toronto overcame a 1-0 Sabres lead because they were inspired by Wade Belak's “fight” with Andrew Peters.

What a joke that was. The fight, I mean. For what seemed like hours, Peters and Belak barely nudged one another with their fists before officials finally separated them near the Toronto bench.

Clearly, it was an attempt at retribution for Peters' mocking of the Leafs last season; clearly, it was as anti-climactic as could be.

Cherry would have you believe the non-event was what shifted the momentum in Toronto's favor. That's not so much funny as it is pathetic. Here's what Leafs winger Darcy Tucker said about the game's true turning point:

“That goal showed everybody on the bench that we could get some momentum going,” Tucker said, referring to Mats Sundin's game-tying goal late in the first period. “(We) seemed to roll after that.”

Hmmmmnn. No mention whatsoever of the fight. If only Tucker had a direct financial stake in maintaining an image that includes the glorification of revenge-based headhunting, I'm sure he'd see Cherry's point.

• The Ottawa Senators held a closed-door meeting after they blew a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2 to Carolina Saturday. Unfortunately, Martin Gerber was left in charge of the door, and two soft reporters were allowed in anyway.

• According to Canadian Press writer Pierre Lebrun, Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford will propose radical schedule changes to NHL GMs when they meet in Toronto this week. Rather than join the increasing (and correct) calls for the league to return to a more balanced schedule, Rutherford wants teams to play only within their conference during the regular season, the way baseball does with its American and National league franchises. Looks like somebody's owner isn't happy about paying for a championship roster and wants to cut costs by traveling less.

• Yes, referee Mick McGeough blew it in a big way Friday night. This is what happens when you leave human beings in charge of the game. It stinks when they hurt your team, but bad calls are a fact of life no amount of instant replay can guard against.

• The big news about Brian Leetch isn't that he's interested in returning to the NHL. The big news is he's considering signing with the Flyers. If that's true, and if I'm interim Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren (and if Ed Snider hasn't hired my replacement without telling me) I would insist Leetch be cleared of any and all post-concussion symptoms before agreeing to a contract with him.


Baseball has interleague play unlike what you mentioned in your column. Get with it!

- Doug

You don't know what you're talking about. It sounds like you've never played hockey before. Fighting is a part of hockey, and if you don't like it then stop watching it and go watch figure skating or some other "non-violent" sport

- Anonomys

Is fighting nice? No. Entertaining? Yes. Essential? Nope... if great plays, great dekes, great saves, and great goals fill the void, and that seems to be the trend the NHL has taken. My beef: players that still get hooking penalties. Isn't it simple? Stick to playing puck, not the player.

- Louis-Alexandre

Fighting can be a greater team motivator. It's weak to pick one specific instance for an example since true hockey fans know that fighting can help if done at the right time during a game. What I want to know is why diving isn't being called this year? And if it is called there is always offsetting penalties. How does that discourage diving, if the worst thing that happens is you get a 4-on-4 situation. Start calling just the dive!!!!

- Myles

Stick to playing the puck? Ha-ha. Playing the body as long as they have the puck is the way to go, and fighting is essential, the stars have to be protected in order for them to score, deke and all that.

- Barry

I loved your blog on Wade Belak and Uncle Don. Seems that ref.'s are taking a longer time to break up these fights, hummm-games seem to change after these fights, hummm, sports papers seem to have these fights front paged, hummm- do fights sell the sport-hummm! (do they sell papers) Oh well! Keep up the good work! And as far as the "solid food thing", you better take something for that - you may have worms!

- C Mitchell


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