Grapes on NBC? A Hull of an idea

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

Don Cherry often muses about whether U.S. viewers would ever warm up to his ways.

That often-bombastic style that has -- love him or hate him -- made the Coach's Corner star a Canadian television icon.

We'll know soon enough whether Americans are sweet or sour on Grapes. NBC announced yesterday that Cherry will be a part of its Stanley Cup final coverage.

In return, CBC's Hockey Night in Canada gets a taste of NBC's Brett Hull, another hockey guy who's not the least bit shy about sharing his many opinions.

Like, for example, what he thinks about the idea of working alongside Cherry during the final.

"It's going to be so good, they're going to work out a deal so we can work together every week next season," Hull said during a conference call yesterday.

Understand this is coming from someone who admits he's "a huge fan" of Cherry's work. No wonder, then, that Hull doesn't doubt for a minute that Grapes will be a big hit with American viewers.

"He's part of the thing that's missing in all coverage in the American sports world -- some personality," said Hull. "It's what you see in a guy like (Fox NFL Sunday's) Terry Bradshaw. He's not just Mr. PC ... he tells it like it is."

Cherry, though, hasn't forgotten the time, more than a decade ago, when he went on a Pittsburgh TV station, saw a picture of Mario Lemieux and a long-haired Jaromir Jagr beside each other, and said "there's Mario and his sister."

"That didn't go over too well," said Cherry. "That was the last time I was on in the States."

POINTED RESPONSE

Hull had a rather pointed response when Cherry said he'd "always heard that what I say up here, I could never get away with (in the U.S.)."

Said Hull: "That's because no one down here has a sense of humour anymore. Don't believe everything you've been told, Don. They said I'd never win a Cup, either."

Joel Darling, Hockey Night in Canada's executive producer, said final details of the Cherry-Hull show have yet to be worked out. Hull recently made an appearance on Coach's Corner, and can't wait to sit beside Cherry again.

He's convinced Americans will like what they see.

"If (Cherry) did it on a regular basis, he'd be just as popular down here as he is up in Canada," he said.

PUCK DROPPINGS: In the next 10 days, Pierre McGuire will spend time in Nashville, Buffalo, Detroit, New York and Long Island, working as a game analyst for TSN and NBC. Now, that's a grind ... Eighteen of CBC's telecasts during the first round will be produced in high-definition format, including the entire Senators-Penguins series and all games in Vancouver and Calgary. TSN's HD count also sits at 18 ... Oilers assistant coach Craig Simpson is joining CBC's studio for the first two rounds ... Joining the cast of thousands at TSN are Coyotes centre Jeremy Roenick and Flyers goalie Martin Biron.

WOE, CANADA: The CBC clearly isn't happy that it won't be featuring the Senators, Penguins and Sidney Crosby on Saturday night. It gets New Jersey-Tampa Bay instead, while the Senators and Penguins play at 3 p.m. to accommodate NBC. Cherry believes that decision "cost us a million viewers. We should be (in Ottawa) on Saturday night." ... While he'll cheer for the three Canadian teams that made the playoffs, Cherry admits the playoff party won't be the same without the Maple Leafs or Canadiens. "It's sad to see both of those teams out," he said.

DO OR DIE? Cherry predicts the Senators will face the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup final. He said a deep run is a must for the Sens -- or else. "If Ottawa doesn't do something this year, a lot of guys are going to pay the price. They cannot choke again." Hull says Buffalo and Anaheim will square off for the Cup.

AROUND THE DIAL: Former NHL defenceman Garry Galley, a Rogers Sportsnet Senators game analyst, is in as a replacement for John Garrett on CBC's Devils-Lightning series. He'll work alongside play-by-play guy Mark Lee ... Darling said CBC might begin live Internet streaming of playoff games tomorrow, when the Bolts and Devils play Game 1. Pre-game and post-game shows for every CBC telecast are already planned for Hockey Night Online.


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