SUN Hockey Pool

Coach eager to resume corner

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

As much as fans may be itching to watch the show, Hockey Night In Canada's Don Cherry is ready to provide the scratching.

"A year is a long time for the players and it's a long time to go without talking about it," the Coach's Corner veteran said last night. "Let's get going."

Cherry, who expects to be back on the Hockey Night crew when the season resumes in October, said he feels for the players who he believes are the lockout's biggest losers.

"I feel so sorry for some of the older players who could have played last year and won't be back," Cherry said last night in an interview. "A lot of them will have to retire.

"It's sad because I'm a players' guy. And it will be the middle-class guys as usual who get it in the ear."

Cherry said one of the upsides of the new CBA is that team management will no longer have excuses for underachieving. And Grapes believes the salary-cap structure should make for a more competitive league.

"Everybody starts fresh now with the same opportunity," Cherry said. "There are no excuses for GMs who say they don't have money.

"I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be exciting."

For the most part, the Canadian broadcasting landscape will remain the same when hockey resumes. However, rightsholders here have been selling spots for the upcoming season at a price reflecting a drop of between 15% to 20% in audience size.

And in the U.S., the lockout ostensibly cost the NHL its deal with longtime partner ESPN, which earlier this year pulled the plug.


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