If you want to see Don Cherry upset, just insult Canadian kids who play hockey.
The Canadian hockey icon dropped the gloves to defend Canada’s minor hockey players and coaches Monday — just a day after Team Canada’s coach Brent Sutter suggested hockey development in the country isn’t what it used to be.
Cherry said he still can’t believe a Canadian coach would say something like that, let alone one with a last name Sutter.
“He threw the people in Canadian minor hockey under the bus,” a spirited Cherry said Monday. “I cannot believe Brent Sutter said it — but he did.”
Sutter’s closing words about Canada’s disappointing fourth-place tournament finish in Sweden to QMI Agency’s Terry Koshan riled up the star of Coach’s Corner.
“There’s too much focus on winning and losing at such a young age, and not enough about the skill part of it,” Sutter told Koshan. “That’s truly where it starts. At 16, 17 when they hit the Canadian Hockey League, there should already be a standard of skill already in place.”
Too much focus on winning?
Cherry was not amused.
However Sutter, coach and GM of the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels, went further saying import Europeans to Canada’s junior leagues “are top-end players” with strong “skating” and “skills” thanks in part because “development starts at peewee age, at bantam age, at 10 years of age.”
To say Cherry doesn’t concur with the losing Team Canada juniors coach — one of the famous Sutter family from Viking, Alta., which has produced eight NHLers out of the Canadian hockey system — is putting it softly.
“He’s a great coach but I expected more from him,” Cherry said in an interview. “To put this loss on the pee wee coaches is just not fair in as far as I am concerned.”