Cherry puts his money where his mouth is

Joshua Ho-Sang of the Toronto Marlboros receives a medal from Don Cherry after his team defeated...

Joshua Ho-Sang of the Toronto Marlboros receives a medal from Don Cherry after his team defeated the Mississauga Rebels in the '96 AAA - GTHL Championship at the Carnegie Centennial Arena in Toronto, Ont., March 5, 2012. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/Toronto Sun)

JOE WARMINGTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:01 AM ET

TORONTO - Every player wearing blue and white with a Maple Leaf on his crest in this game was from southern Ontario.

In fact every player on both teams in Game 5 of the Minor Midget AAA GTHL final Monday night between the Mississauga Rebels and Toronto Marlboros at the Herbie H. Carnegie Arena are proud GTA products.

These are the guys Don Cherry feels face being snubbed by any organization which doesn't ice players from Ontario.

If people thought he had mellowed on this stance in the 48 hours since he originally said it, they were wrong.

Cherry, who has been to every game in this series, is still hot about this.

He made that clear with a digging tweet sent out Monday from his @CoachsCornerCBC account saying "Thanks for overwhelming support towards Ontario kids -- 1993 Leafs had 16 Ontario boys on roster including good Kingston boy @Gilmour_93."

Cherry also added his two cents about a certain Ontarioborn player that can't seem to crack the Leafs lineup.

"Nazem Kadri should be on this team and as far as I am concerned he was the worst treated first rounder in NHL history," he told the Sun.

Meanwhile if Leafs Brian Burke has any comeback to his team being called out for discriminating against local players, it was not located on Twitter or anywhere else Monday.

But on Saturday he told Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean that he didn't think fans cared where a player's passport or birth certificate comes from.

But it was Burke's comment that the Leafs are "stuck with" teams coming in with players from Ontario in the lineup "playing the game of their lives" that upset Grapes.

Cherry's point is why doesn't Toronto have some of its own to help combat this?

He says that if you want to win you have to care what hockey program a kid came out of.

"I still hard to believe that Ontario's own Toronto Maple

Every player wearing blue and white with a Maple Leaf on his crest in this game was from southern Ontario.

In fact every player on both teams in Game 5 of the Minor Midget AAA GTHL final Monday night between the Mississauga Rebels and Toronto Marlboros at the Herbie H. Carnegie Arena are proud GTA products.

These are the guys Don Cherry feels face being snubbed by any organization which doesn't ice players from Ontario.

If people thought he had mellowed on this stance in the 48 hours since he originally said it, they were wrong.

Cherry, who has been to every game in this series, is still hot about this.

He made that clear with a digging tweet sent out Monday from his @CoachsCornerCBC account saying "Thanks for overwhelming support towards Ontario kids--1993 Leafs had 16 Ontario boys on roster including good Kingston boy@Gilmour_93."

Cherry also added his two cents about a certain Ontarioborn player that can't seem to crack the Leafs lineup.

"Nazem Kadri should be on this team and as far as I am concerned he was the worst treated first rounder in NHL history," he told the Sun.

Meanwhile if Leafs Brian Burke has any comeback to his team being called out for discriminating against local players, it was not located on Twitter or anywhere else Monday.

But on Saturday he told Hockey Night in Canada's Ron MacLean that he didn't think fans cared where a player's passport or birth certificate comes from.

But it was Burke's comment that the Leafs are "stuck with" teams coming in with players from Ontario in the lineup "playing the game of their lives" that upset Grapes.

Cherry's point is why doesn't Toronto have some of its own to help combat this?

He says that if you want to win you have to care what hockey program a kid came out of.

"I still hard to believe that Ontario's own Toronto Maple Leafs are currently out of a playoff spot.

His stance on the issue certainly went over well at this game.

Grapes walked in five minutes before the game, bought the $7 ticket and then was swarmed by fans attending the game -- all saying they couldn't agree more with what he said Saturday night on Leafs GM Brian Burke not having any Ontarians in the lineup.

"I think it's awesome," said teen Matt Marsden.

"We really appreciated him sticking up those of us from the GTHL," said his brother Pat.

Lopapa Carlo said, as a dad with a son who plays for the Don Mills Flyers, it sure was appreciated.

"Don is such an inspiration to the boys," he said. "And if he is in the building, they play even harder. He inspires him."

Even GTHL president John Gardner got into the act saying he also appreciated what Cherry said since in any given year there are on average 60 players from the GTHL in the NHL.

But none currently on the Leafs.

"All I know is Don wouldn't be coming to GTHL if the hockey played in it was wasn't any good."

Marlboros manager Steve Robson appreciates Grapes coming out.

"He is a great guy. He doesn't have to do it," Robson said. "He comes out at stupid times in bad arenas because he loves hockey and he loves the kids."

These kids are 15 year olds playing for a chance to be drafted into the Ontario Hockey League perhaps one day to play in the NHL. The action is fast and the hitting is hard.

"There's more hitting here than there is in some NHL games," joked Ross McLean.

And a lot of skill too.

Monday night's game proved to be a classic.

The Marlboros' highly-touted prospect Connor McDavid broke a 2-2 tie late, netting the game-winning goal with 21 seconds left to win the championship.

Monday's 3-2 win clinched the best-of-seven series in five games for the champion Marlboros.

It was one hell of a game. Cherry took to the ice after the game to present the players with their trophies and medals.

Afterwards, in a nearly unprecedented gesture, both winning and losing teams posed together with Cherry for a photo.

Along with McDavid, teammate Josh Hosang is being touted as a high draft pick. Same goes for the Rebels Robert Fabbri.

"But I don't want these guys to get big heads so I won't be commenting on them," said Cherry. "I love all of these players. They are all great."

The best part of it for Grapes is each and every one of them are from Ontario.

joe.warmington@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @joe_warmington


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