Cherry thinks Sens are playoff-bound

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:13 PM ET

It’s a sure sign summer is over in Canada.

The only senators that matter aren’t politicians, the only colour the leafs are turning is blue, and Don Cherry is spouting off on the great frozen game.

Settling into a booth at the city’s newest Don Cherry’s restaurant Tuesday at the Hazeldean Mall, the iconic star of CBC’s Coaches Corner was in town to hobnob with a throng of fans and autograph hounds, and to promote his Hockey Moms tribute at the Westin Wednesday.

“The fathers are the ones that get all the attention all the time. It really makes me laugh that they bring all the players’ fathers out to games and never the mothers,” said the 76-year-old Cherry.

“The mothers never get the credit they deserve, so I’m gonna try and get them some credit (Wednesday) afternoon.”

And, true to form, Grapes had no shortage of opinions on the state of the game, and, as the puck dropped on the first pre-season Battle of Ontario, on the fortunes of the Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I don’t understand how The Hockey News picked the Sens to finish out of the playoffs (THN prognosticators have Ottawa 10th in their annual preseason rankings).

“There’s no way they’ll be out of the playoffs — I guarantee it,” said Cherry.

“I don’t understand that at all. They could cause a lot of trouble. They got (Sergei) Gonchar on the point, and with (Daniel) Alfredsson on the other side, they’ll make something out of that on the power play. They’ll make the playoffs. I guarantee it.”

As for his beloved Leafs, “You don’t know how they’re gonna do,” he said.

“I’m a little worried about their centremen. I think they have one of the best defences in the league, and if (goaltender Jean-Sebastien) Giguere can come back and play half as good as he was in Anaheim, he’s gonna be all right.

“It’s iffy if they make the playoffs, but (GM Brian) Burke’s going the right way. He’s picking up some pretty tough guys. They’re not going to be pushed around any more.”

While the Battle of Ontario has lost a bit of its lustre now five full seasons removed from a playoff matchup between the teams, Cherry said it won’t take much to reignite the rivalry between the two teams.

“I think you need Tie Domi, Darcy Tucker, Shayne Corson, a few guys like that and you’ll get it going again,” he said. “It looks like Toronto’s got a few guys like those guys, so it should be a little different. You watch, it’ll pick up, probably starting (with Tuesday’s game).”

After last year’s euphoric double gold-medal performance at the Vancouver Olympics, Cherry said the Canadian game is right where it belongs — at the top of the hockey world.

“All you have to do is look at the top draft picks in the last draft — the top five are from the OHL, eight of the top 10 are CHL. Sounds pretty good to me so far,” he said.

“The game is in great shape. When you get the top five picks (from Canada), you know you’re doing something right.”

aedan.helmer@sunmedia.ca


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