NHL Notes: Cherry Apologizes; Maple Leafs’ Kessel, Bruins’ Seguin Both On Fire


The big off the ice story this week was Don Cherry’s comments about former enforcers Chris Nilan, Stu Grimson, and Jim Thomson, the ensuing (and unexpected) firestorm and Cherry’s apology last night, as the longtime Hockey Night in Canada commentator spent about two minutes of his six-minute Coach’s Corner apologizing.

“I gotta admit I was wrong on a lot of things,” Cherry said on his Saturday night Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada. “Three enforcers — tough guys, my type of guys — I threw them under the bus, and I’m sorry about it. I really am.”

Today, the three former enforcers announced they had accepted Cherry’s apology and stated they would no longer pursue legal action.

Cherry’s problems started back on opening night, Oct. 6, when he said Grimson, Nilan and Thomson were “hypocrites,” “pukes” and “turncoats,” for saying fighting and the role of the tough-guy had contributed to the deaths of Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak this summer.

Cherry said,

"“The ones that I am really disgusted with, and I hate to say this when the kids are listening . . . are the bunch of pukes that fought before: Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson. (They say) ‘Oh, the reason that they’re drinking, (taking) drugs and alcoholics is because they fight.’ You turncoats. You hypocrites.”"

On Oct. 11, the trio issued a statement through a Nashville law firm that hinted they might seek legal action against Cherry.

There is no question that Cherry was too hard on these three men. Other sports that allow such brutal hits, not to mention the lives of former enforcers like Bob Probert, have proven that this type of work can lead to alcoholism, depression, and/or anger issues. I do not even blame any of them for looking for an apology, but that is not the point.

To me, it is disappointing that the trio of men took the legal route. Cherry’s words are not going to change how people feel about Grimson, Nilan, and Thomson – all of whom have earned the respect of former and current NHL players and longtime fans. However, I am afraid that the new generation of hockey fan will see them as just another part of an entitled society that cannot accept any type of criticism and runs to the courts to make someone pay for a comment.

Welcome to the world of politically correct hockey!

Seguin, Kessel both looking good

Bruins fans have made a case of chanting, “Thank you, Kessel” anytime Tyler Seguin does anything good (or whenever Kessel comes to Boston, as he will on Thursday). But as time goes on, it may turn out to be one of those trades that benefit both teams.

Seguin has arguably been Boston’s best player this season, leading the team with a goal and four assists and a plus-3 rating. He seems to have developed a confidence that he lacked last year, he is far more physical (thanks to adding 10 pounds of muscle), and seems to have earned the respect of Claude Julien, who moved Seguin to the top line in place of the injured David Krejci.

Meanwhile, Kessel has been on fire. He leads the league in goals (5) and points (8) and appears like he might be ready to finally take a step to the elite level. He will never bne a defensive standout, but he certainly looks like he has found a way to be a consistent threat on on the offensive end.

Time will tell who the real winner in the deal will be, but Kessel is now doing enough to at least put Toronto in the vicinity of even.