Thursday, June 05, 2008

Lidstrom Opens The Door

Niklas Lidstrom, the first European captain to win a Stanley Cup (congratulations), opened a door last night...

... for Don Cherry to disappear into the sunset.

Don Cherry and his peers have been selling the notion for years that Europeans don't make good captains, that they don't care as much about the Cup. Clearly an affront to any competitor who leaves his own home to play the sport he loves, his inane ramblings on the subject now have no place – a day long overdue.

I don't think I'm alone on the call for time on Cherry here. I'd say this blogger is with me. Probably the best player on the planet too.

Most interesting the top newspaper in the country thinks Cherry and his toady sidekick are now actually costing the CBC the battle in the coverage of the finals.

Funny really that a dinosaur like Cherry should still be getting air time at all. In what was hopefully his last time on national television, Cherry yet again embarrassed himself by trying to say he was responsible for Mario Lemieux's maturation and that he is doing the same thing for Crosby (Crosby, when interviewed, said he watches HNIC when he can – occasionally – maybe his lessons actually come from somewhere else). Cherry then went on to explain that he keys on players like Roberts and Malone because he (and insinuated he was among a few here) knew what was going on. His evidence for his all knowing was some shouting on the bench and then a goalmouth scramble goal.

Wow Don, well done. We're very impressed.

Worse for me than the buffoon himself, is that Cherry's ideals get air time from others. Take this quote from the NHL website this morning:
"Clearly, times have changed. North American players are not the only ones who are leaders - evidenced by Lidstrom's historic moment Wednesday night."

No acknowledgment that the idea never held water in the first place. Times must have changed. 20, 30 or 40 years ago Europeans were, as we all know from watching hockey, lesser leaders. Even Mike Babcock, who must surely now be an expert in the merits of European hockey and leadership, does not go far enough:
"I don't know who thinks they're not … that's ridiculous," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of European players. "You're living in the past if you believe that."

Living not in fairyland, but in the past?

Maybe we should hope to see Cherry back. If only to witness what he can come up with next. For example, as it became apparent more than a week before the inevitability of Cup victory was allowed to take place that Detroit would be victors, Don Cherry resorted recently to statistics to prove his stance:
"... (he) uses Nicklas Lidstrom's captaincy to question why Europeans have been in the NHL for 21 years, and there were 13 European captains this year, but Lidstrom was only the first European captain to lift the Cup."

Though starved for Cups in Eastern Canada, we have long known that Europeans make good captains. Koivu shines brightest of all Habs each and every time they make the playoffs. Sundin is the best Leaf by a few light years. And Daniel Alfredsson may have taken a couple of years to learn, but is the straw that stirs the drink for any Ottawa hopes. This article extols the virtues of Koivu and other Canadian captains. But what could the two reporters know about hockey today, they didn't coach in the NHL 30 years ago.

To the winners

Congratulations to The Red Wings on their Stanley Cup victory. In any case, Lidstrom and Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen, Holmstrom and Kronwall laid this all to rest. They have proven that between the best scout in the league and the best defenceman you can win Cups other than by intimidation (Brian Burke style).

The Red Wings provide hope to people who prefer the passing and poise to the banging. And especially to Habs fans who choose to model on this intelligent franchise rather than their big bad Western rivals.

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