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Don Cherry, announcer on CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada,” is greeted by fans as he arrives for Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit, Sunday, May 31, 2009. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Don Cherry is talking about the Carolina Hurricanes again.
Hint: Don’t expect any apologies.
With the Canes set to play in the Eastern Conference finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Cherry took to the air Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada to call Canes fans “frontrunners,” more or less dismissing the record playoff crowds at PNC Arena and the excitement built by the Canes’ playoff run.
In February, Cherry used his “Coach’s Corner” segment on HNIC to blast the Canes’ Storm Surge postgame celebrations, calling the Canes a “bunch of jerks.” He was back at it Saturday, pouring more gas on the fire.
“They know it’s the wrong thing to do or they’d do it in the playoff,” Cherry said of the Surge. “And these people that are in there now, now they’re winning, (are) front-running fans as far as I’m concerned. That’s what they are, front-running fans.”
When Cherry took time to take a breath, HNIC host Ron MacLean said the Canes’ success, with such feel-good stories as Hamilton the pig, is hard not to embrace.
Before MacLean could finish, Cherry broke in: “I don’t embrace nothing. I said they look like a bunch of jerks … being a fish on the water, a bowling ball. It’s professional hockey, and no sport in the world does it except them and it comes down from the top, ‘I want to entertain the fan.’
“The fans there now, the 17 and 18 thousand, they’re frontrunners, they’re there because they win, not because they act like fish. OK?.”
The Canes, from owner Tom Dundon to the players and coaches, said they were not offended when Cherry first went off on the Surge. Dundon said Cherry’s comments only brought more attention to the franchise and, yes, “Bunch of Jerks” t-shirts sold quickly.
During the playoffs, the Canes players have raised their sticks and taken bows after home-ice wins. No home-run trots or Thor hammer strikes.
But, wait. Cherry did come close to a compliment Saturday. Watching a clip that showed “JERK” displayed in the PNC Arena seats before a game, he let slip, “That’s pretty good.”
If he had looked closer, he might have seen the four letters highlighted by “Bunch of Jerks” towels.