Sour Grapes over story

Don Cherry is giving the Sun a big thumbs down to the coverage of the Staal brothers arrest. (Sun...

Don Cherry is giving the Sun a big thumbs down to the coverage of the Staal brothers arrest. (Sun File/Craig Robertson)

JOE WARMINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Don Cherry has jumped over the boards and taken the gloves off in defence of the Staal brothers, saying the media coverage of their arrest was "unfair" and "ridiculous."

And the coach is throwing some of his punches at us at the Sun, for which he has traded in his usual thumbs up into a definite two thumbs down.

"I am very disappointed in the Sun because I always thought of it as very fair and not a trash tabloid," he said last night from his cottage near Kingston. "But what you did to those kids by putting their mug shots on the front of the paper was really low."

His complaint was not the only one yesterday, but it was the loudest. Some felt the placement on the front page of the arrest in Minnesota of hockey brothers Eric and Jordan Staal of Thunder Bay was in poor taste.

The brothers and 12 other pals were brought into custody and charged after a bachelor party for Carolina Hurricanes star Eric Staal, 22, allegedly got a little out of control.

NIGHT IN JAIL

He spent the night in jail and was charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. Brother Jordan, 18, of the Pittsburgh Penguins, was charged with underaged drinking, booked and released.

Cherry questions why police had to go to that extreme over a party and why they would release their booking photos, but was even more adamant in his defence of the two hockey players and the very game they play.

The headline on the Sun's front -- "NHL Players Gone Wild!" -- was misleading, he said, adding this was not even remotely in the same league as last week's incident with the Chilean soccer team and Toronto Police, and yet received equal or even bigger coverage.

"Those guys spit on the cops," he said of the Under-20 soccer players.

He said he still can't believe the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal or the NBA referee gambling probe did not receive the same front-page treatment.

"I mean they were killing dogs," said the emotional Grapes, well known for his love of the canines and specifically his beloved Blue.

"All of these other sports have all kinds of crazy things happen -- you have got guys up on rape charges, murder, attempted murder, gambling suspicion and guys taking steroids, and you have some kids on your front page who got a little too loud at a party. Come on!"

Still angry, he added that he "knows something that was not on the front of your paper.

"What wasn't there was how 2,600 NHL players took random drug tests and not one player tested positive, but instead you have something about a noisy party."

Now, Grapes said he understands the dangers of young players and drinking and driving and the like, but says this is not one of those cases. It was a young man's bachelor party and if "they were not hockey players no one would ever have known about it. Come on, Joe, you and I have been at wilder parties together that never got in the paper and I know a lot of you people out there have, too."

Well, I guess we can't argue with Grapes on that one, folks.

"I think it's time, Scrawler, you get back to your Kingston roots," said Cherry.

Man, he really is ticked when he's pulling out the old Kingston-loyalty card.

I tried to explain to Don that it was a hell of a story about two superstar kids from Ontario getting into trouble during the dog days of summer for newspapers.

But there was no point.

"Do better next time," he said. "You guys at the Sun should be ashamed of yourselves. If they are exonerated from this will you have that on the front page?"

As for the Staal brothers and the others, I guess maybe they have learned a lesson from this, but Don said as far as he is concerned it was all blown way out of proportion.

"I know the Staals and I know the Staal family. I mean these are fine young men that you would be proud to call your own sons."

And Cherry had one last rant. "I have a question you for you -- will you guys put on the front page all of the charity work the Staal boys do?"

I can answer that Grapes. If they are arrested and put in jail during the process of doing it you can bet on it. Unless, of course, it was during a Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup victory party, which I think would be difficult to knock off page one.

Even Don would agree that would be one noisy party worth putting on the front page.


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