Several Bruins know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, but the same group also understands the feeling of coming up short. That adds to the experience advantage that Boston has entering the final.
Torey Krug during the 2013 Stanley Cup final|Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images
When people talk about the experience advantage the Boston Bruins have over the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup final, the shiny Stanley Cup rings on the fingers of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask serve as a reminder to the Bruins that they have been there and done that before. And there is a ton of wisdom to be gleaned from that experience in 2011, when the Bruins came from down 2-0 in the final and won Game 7 on the road to take the Cup.
But as the Bruins enter Game 1 tonight, those same players, along with defenseman Torey Krug, know that just as much can be learned from losing as from winning. They were all part of the team that lost the Stanley Cup final two years later to the Chicago Blackhawks. The pain is still there, and it particularly stings that the Bruins blew a 2-1 series lead and were 1:16 away from sending the series to Game 7 before giving up two goals in 17 seconds on home ice.
Krug is the only player on the Bruins roster who has not won a Stanley Cup final, but has lost one, so he has a unique perspective on the situation. “I know for myself personally, that feeling after losing in 2013 was crushing,” Krug said. “It was tough. And it makes you realize how few and far between trips to the final are and you have to take advantage of the opportunity in front of you.”
For Brad Marchand, the 2,163 days since that loss to Chicago has not exactly dulled the pain. The Bruins were on something of a magical run that spring. The final came months after the Boston Marathon bombing and the Bruins were providing a much-needed reprieve from the aftermath. But they simply could not get it done, in part because Marchand, who led the team in scoring during the regular season, was held pointless in the final. “It was so sweet to win, but it hurts to lose,” Marchand said. “It was devastating. It still hurts to this day. I probably look back more on the loss and what I would do differently than the win. When you lose something like that when you’re that close and you work that hard, it never leaves you. Hopefully we don’t feel that again.”
And therein might be the advantage the Bruins are seeking. The motivation to avoid the feeling of losing a Stanley Cup final might be as strong as the desire to win. The Blues not only have no Stanley Cup rings in their dressing room, the only player on their roster who has gone to a Stanley Cup final is David Perron, who got to the dance last season with the Vegas Golden Knights.
“It’s a huge motivator,” Krug said. “I never want to feel that way again, to be honest. And I think the same thing can be said for the guys who are 1-1 in the final because they know how sweet it tastes when they were able to get it done and they know the other side when you have to watch the other team celebrate, especially in your own building. It’s a crushing feeling. Words are hard to find when you go through something like that.”
One thing the Bruins do know is that there is probably nothing in this series that they haven’t experienced before. They came back from an 0-2 deficit against the Canucks in 2011. They lost three straight after taking a 2-1 series lead in 2013. They played long overtime games. “Whatever comes up, you can look back and use it as experience and it’s something that is kind of useful,” Zdeno Chara said.
When Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was asked on the eve of the final what he thought his team’s biggest advantage over the Blues is in the series, he was very wary of providing bulletin board material. But he did acknowledge the experience factor is decidedly in his team’s favor. “Experience. I’ll go the easy route,” he said. “I just believe that our guys that have been there, that have won a Cup, have lost a Cup, that should give us an edge. Some people disagree with that once you’re here, but I believe it will give us an edge. I think it’s helped us a lot this week in the preparation, with all the down time, and hopefully going forward that is an advantage for us.”
Sportsnet faces challenges after Don Cherry departure
Sportsnet brass made the call to end Don Cherry’s nearly four-decade run on Hockey Night in Canada’s Coach’s Corner after his rant over the weekend. Their next big decision may be even tougher.
With his bombast, insight, experience and over-the-top delivery, Cherry created an institution with his appearances on the popular Saturday evening segment.
Love him or hate him, he’s hard to replace. Therein lies the challenge for Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley, Rogers Media president Jordan Banks and other company powerbrokers.
Consistently a ratings hit, the first intermission this Saturday night will be appointment viewing.
“It’s going to be very, very interesting to see what they do and I wouldn’t be surprised if they just let it slide for a while and put something else in there,” said David Shoalts, a former Globe and Mail sports reporter and author of Hockey Fight in Canada: The Big Media Face Off Over the NHL.
“It’s not as difficult as it would have been for them, because under Rogers they did cut [the segment] to five minutes. At the CBC, he had come to take up the whole first intermission, so that would have been a big problem.”
A spokesman said Sportsnet is “still considering options” for the first intermission segment and that company executives would not be doing interviews at this time. Segment co-host Ron MacLean did not immediately return a telephone message.
However, it’s likely Sportsnet already had ideas for the segment’s future post-Cherry.
A complete Coach’s Corner reboot is possible or there could be a shuffling of other segments. Extended highlight packages could help fill the gap. The segment could be dropped altogether, although that’s unlikely given its history and showcase status.
The network may choose to recognize the massive impact Cherry had as a commentator, but it would be tricky to balance that with his rather ignominious exit.
A career overview could buy some time since the seat might be a little too hot for an immediate replacement. Of course, it’s possible the page gets completely turned and Cherry’s name is not mentioned at all.
Just like when he was on the air, there will be no shortage of critics and plaudits.
Burke is a 3-2 pick to replace Cherry this Saturday and a 5-4 pick to fill the role next season, according to odds released Tuesday by SportsBettingDime.com. Sportsnet hockey commentators Kelly Hrudey, Colby Armstrong and Craig Simpson were listed among the other early favourites.
HNIC was a longtime CBC Saturday night staple, but the show and its games moved to Sportsnet when Rogers landed a 12-year, $5.2-billion US national broadcast rights deal with the NHL that began in 2014. Coach’s Corner and HNIC are still broadcast on CBC in a sub-licencing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet.
Sportsnet apologized Sunday for Cherry’s comments about his belief that new immigrants don’t wear poppies, and in turn, don’t support veterans.
Cherry prefaced his on-air remarks Saturday night with the phrase, ‘You people’ — drawing criticism from all quarters – but denied in interviews after his departure that he was singling out visible minorities. He has not publicly apologized for his comments.
“If I had to do it over again, I probably would have said ‘Everybody,”‘ Cherry said Tuesday in an interview on Sirius XM Canada’s “Canada Talks” channel. “But I didn’t and there’s no sense of whining about it and I paid the price.”
Given his long tenure, how — or if — his departure is addressed this weekend will be fascinating, as will MacLean’s thoughts. The veteran HNIC anchor apologized last Sunday.
“I had a good time,” Cherry said. “I’m 85 years old and I’m still having a good time. As I have always said, ‘I’m glad I’m going out on my shield. I’m not going out with a whimper.”‘
Don Cherry defends Hockey Night in Canada comments but says he would have ‘used different words’
Don Cherry says he won’t apologize for his divisive comments about new immigrants not wearing poppies, but the former co-host of “Coach’s Corner” says if he could do it again, he would have chosen different words.
“I think the closest I’ll come to apologizing is I wish I had used different words,” Cherry told Global News.
“I should have said everybody. If I had to do it over again, I would have said everybody.”
Cherry, 85, was fired from the Hockey Night in Canada segment by Sportsnet Monday, following televised comments Saturday night in which he singled out “you people that come here” in Toronto and Mississauga, where he lives, for not wearing poppies, implying they don’t support Canada’s soldiers.
“You people that come here… whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy,” he said on Saturday.
In an interview with Global News, Cherry refused to back down from his comments and said that everyone should wear a poppy to honour Canada’s fallen soldiers.
“I do believe to this day that everybody in Canada should have a poppy on, out of honour and respect of the fallen soldiers that have fallen in the Second World War, Korea and the whole deal,” Cherry said.
“Those people who gave their lives, at least we can buy a poppy.”
Pressed on whether his comments were racist, Cherry said his comments weren’t directed at minorities, and that what he said applies to anyone.
“It could have been Irish, it could have been Scottish, it could have been anybody,” he said, adding that the “silent majority” supported him.
“It was picked up the way it was picked up.”
Cherry said he was planning to apologize on this week’s upcoming Hockey Night in Canada, but was never given the chance.
“I was ready to apologize,” Cherry said. “I was gonna put out a tweet, or whatever they do, saying I was wrong and I think it could have smoothed over pretty good. But that’s the way they wanted it and that’s the way it goes.”
Global News has contacted Sportsnet about whether Cherry would have apologized, but they said they had nothing further to add.
Cherry, a former player and NHL coach, had worked as a broadcaster for more than 37 years on Hockey Night in Canada, drawing attention for a number of controversial statements including calling progressives “left-wing pinkos,” describing Quebecers as “whiners,” and making derogatory comments about European hockey players.
Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley said in a statement Monday that it was “the right time for him to immediately step down.”
“During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for,” Yabsley said.
Coach’s Corner co-host Ron MacLean also apologized Sunday for Cherry’s remarks. During Cherry’s rant, MacLean could be seen nodding and giving a thumbs-up.
‘We were wrong:’ Ron MacLean apologizes for Don Cherry’s comments on Hockey Night in Canada
MacLean issued a televised apology that Cherry’s remarks were “hurtful, discriminatory” and that he wished he had responded differently on air.
“Don Cherry made remarks which were hurtful, discriminatory, which were flat out wrong,” MacLean said. “I owe you an apology, too. I sat there, did not catch it, did not respond.
“Last night was a really great lesson to Don and me. We were wrong, and I sincerely apologize. I wanted to thank you for calling me and Don on that last night.”
Cherry told Global News that he was “disappointed” in his co-host Ron MacLean, but that the two were still friends.
“He buried me. I was very disappointed the way he handled [it],” Cherry said. “I don’t want to condemn him but I was very disappointed.”
Cherry’s remarks were roundly criticized by politicians across Canada including Toronto Mayor John Tory and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. The National Hockey League also weighed in, saying the comments “made last night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in.”
Steven Purewal, a historian on the contribution of Indian soldiers during the First World War, told Global News on Monday it was wrong for Cherry to suggest immigrants don’t support Canadian veterans, noting the broadcaster has no way of knowing who’s an immigrant and who was born in Canada.
“It endorses a stereotype that the immigrant is somehow unpatriotic, is thankless about the sacrifices it took to build the country,” he said.
“What we need to be telling Canadians is that many, many diverse communities fought in the Great War and the Second World War. Without their contributions, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we have today.”
Meanwhile, some have been calling for the hockey host’s return. A Change.org petition called ‘Bring Back Don Cherry!’ has amassed over 108,000 signatures.
As for the long-time hockey pundit, Cherry said he is still processing being fired.
“I don’t think it’s hit yet,” he said. “It will be a little different Saturday when I sit down and watch where I was for 38 years.”
“I have no idea and I don’t think Ron Maclean has any idea what they’re going to run after the first period… It’ll be watched that’s for sure because everybody will want to see what goes on at the end of the first period.”
— With a file from Sean Boyton
Brian Burke considered favourite to replace Don Cherry
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 12, 2019 10:56AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 12, 2019 11:09AM EST
TORONTO – Former NHL executive Brian Burke is listed as the heavy favourite to be Don Cherry‘s successor on “Hockey Night in Canada” on one sports betting site.
SportsBettingDime.com has released odds on candidates to replace Cherry after the commentator was sacked by Sportsnet yesterday for a rant about immigrants not wearing poppies on his “Coach’s Corner” segment on Saturday.
Burke, who currently works as an analyst at Sportsnet, is listed as the 3-2 favourite (must bet $2 to win $3) to appear on Cherry‘s longtime “Coach’s Corner” segment on Saturday.
Burke is the 5-4 pick to be the full-time replacement next season.
Sportsnet has not said whether it plans to keep the “Coach’s Corner” segment, which has been a first-intermission staple on HNIC.
Sportsnet hockey commentators Kelly Hrudey, Colby Armstrong and Craig Simpson are among the other betting favourites for Cherry’s job.
The site also is taking odds on what Cherry does next, with working for another media organization the favourite.
If he goes into politics, the odds consider Cherry’s most likely destination to be under Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the Conservative party.
Cherry is listed as a 2,000-1 pick to join the NDP.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2019.
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