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TV networks plan on putting Cherry and Hull together for NHL final

The two shared a CBC-NBC conference call Tuesday to promote their networks' hockey coverage.

Oh, the predictions: Cherry forecasts an Ottawa-Anaheim final, while Hull sees Buffalo-Anaheim in his crystal ball.

Cherry has been at this TV game for decades, while Hull is just starting out. The two networks are planning to put them together for shared segments during the championship series.

"We're ready, we're ready," said Cherry.

He wouldn't like to be permanently separated from Coach's Corner foil Ron MacLean, however.

"I'll stick with him," said Cherry. "He keeps me on the right track."

Hull says the playoff pairings will offer some exciting hockey.

"Keep the penalties down, eh?" interjected Cherry.

"Let them play hockey," Hull chimed in.

Cherry is known for a loud wardrobe, which is an aspect of his new job Hull has yet to explore, but they've long been members of a mutual admiration society.

"I've been a fan of Don's for a long time so any advice I can get I'll take," said Hull. "You don't become an icon just because you dress nice."

Said Cherry: "From what I read, you don't need any advice, and you've got more hair than your dad."

Hull was asked if American hockey fans are ready for Cherry.

"I think they are," he said. "That's a part of the thing that's missing in all coverage, not just hockey, in the American sports world - some personality."

That's why football commentator Terry Bradshaw is as popular as he is, said Hull. Cherry could have the same stature south of the border as he does in Canada, said Hull.

"One show and they might not know but if he did it on a regular basis he'd be just as popular down here," said Hull.

Cherry was previously on U.S. television for a stint many years ago for a Pittsburgh company, and he'll never forget it. Jaromir Jagr had shoulder-length hair at the time and, seeing him with Mario Lemieux, Cherry recalled, "I said, 'There's Mario and his daughter.' That didn't go over too well."

"I think I'm great at (the job)," he said. "But when I go down there I always seem to have problems."

Offered Hull: "People don't have a sense of humour anymore."

CBC execs are livid over the NHL schedule that has Pittsburgh playing in Ottawa on Saturday afternoon, satisfying NBC, instead of giving CBC the prime-time gem. CBC is paying the league a rights fee of $65 million a year while NBC pays nothing in a profit-sharing agreement. Yet, CBC gets Tampa Bay-at-New Jersey for its prime time slot.

"Absolutely," Cherry said when asked if he wouldn't rather be on from Ottawa on Saturday night. "It'll cost us a million viewers going on in the afternoon.

"We should be on at night. I wish we were on Saturday night."

On the failure of Toronto to make it, Cherry was asked about the future of GM John Ferguson.

"They'd better do something next year or even John knows he won't be back," said Cherry. "Give him one more shot, but if something doesn't happen next year he will be gone for sure."

On the absence of Montreal from the playoffs, Cherry threw a verbal dart at forward Alex Kovalev.

"That Kovalev, they should take him out to the back of the barn," Cherry said. "How they could bring him back is beyond me.

"Too bad the goalie got hurt. That's what killed them."

It's sad to see both the Leafs and the Habs on the outside, Cherry said.

"I feel bad for Guy Carbonneau," interjected Hull, a former teammate of the Montreal coach. "I had him very high on the Jack Adams coach-of-the-year ballot.

"Trying to coach those dogs, it's hard, but he still had them close to making the playoffs."

The key player in the Pittsburgh-Ottawa series will be Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, said Cherry.

"Ottawa has the goal scorers, a good defence . . . but if Pittsburgh ever gets off to a good start, it'll come back into the (Senators) minds that they will choke again," he said. "It all depends on how Fleury does.

"If Ottawa doesn't do something this year, there's going to be a lot of guys pay the price. They can't choke again."

Added Hull: "I just think Ottawa has a little too much for them."

Cherry said he's rooting for all three Canadian teams in the playoffs and "Calgary especially."

"There's something about that Calgary club that reminds me of old-time hockey," he said. "They're all scarred up and everything like that."

The Flames are Hull's dark-horse pick to go all the way.

"If there's a team that reminds me of Edmonton last year, it's Calgary," he said. "I don't understand their difficulties on the road but they're unbeatable at home.

"If there is one team that has home-ice advantage in the NHL it's the Calgary Flames. It's an intimidating building to go into."

Are the Red Wings tough enough to withstand Calgary's pounding?

"That's a million-dollar question," responded Hull. "If there's any team that has the toughest row to hoe right now it's the Detroit Red Wings."

If there are a lot of penalties assessed, "that'll play right into Detroit's hands," said Cherry.

The New York Islanders go to Buffalo to play the Sabres in the first round, and Isles coach Ted Nolan was a fan favourite there when he was behind the bench there.

"Imagine the fans in Buffalo when Ted Nolan goes in there," Cherry gushed. "They were absolutely in love with him.

"That should be a dandy series."

It would be ironic if the Sabres' fulfill Hull's prediction because he's not been a fan favourite in HSBC Arena since his controversial goal in 1999 won the Dallas Stars the Stanley Cup over Buffalo.

"I think they're a great team," Hull said of the current edition of the Sabres. "They've got it all.

"They've got four lines that can put the puck in the net and they've got a good defence and a great young goalie.

"If they're going to do it, this is probably the year."

Anaheim can go all the way if it survives the first round against Minnesota, said Hull.

"Minnesota is playing as good as any team in the NHL right now," he said. "They've got a tremendous coach and the team has bought in.

"Anaheim has to play some good hockey to get through that series."

Cherry kept hopping all over the NHL map on the topic of favourite teams.

"I love the way Anahiem plays," he said. "They're my favourite team.

"I love Vancouver, too, but I don't know if they've got a chance against Dallas."



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