Eakins responds to Cherry's criticism of Kadri's handling by Leafs

Toronto Marlies' head coach Dallas Eakins. (QMI Agency)

Toronto Marlies' head coach Dallas Eakins. (QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:22 PM ET

A day after Don Cherry slammed the Maple Leafs organization on Twitter regarding the club's handling of prospect Nazem Kadri, Marlies coach Dallas Eakins cut through the blather.

"His comments yesterday, I can shake my head at them, I know what the truth is, I know what I believe in," Eakins said on Wednesday.

"He is a strong-willed guy. I am sure he believes in everything that he had somebody type for him. I am a massive fan. I would love for Don Cherry to come down, and I invite Don to come down here, and sit in my office and, hey, let's talk about where we are at with our players.

"And I know our players would love it if Don Cherry would come down. He is a huge Toronto Marlboros supporter in minor hockey. I have never seen him at one of our games. I have never seen him at a practice, and he has never come in and knocked on my door. I invite Don to come on down here, more than welcome at any time, we have a lot of fans here, and we would be honoured to have him."

Cherry, who won't have the use of his regular pulpit on Hockey Night in Canada as long as the lockout is in place, had said via his Twitter account (CoachsCornerCBC): "I have never in my life seen a kid treated like Nazem Kadri by the Leafs. It started in his first training camp where he led the team in scoring but was blasted for his defensive faults. They don't blast Kulemin who scored 7 goals. They give him $5 million. Now the Marlies coach comes out and rips Kadri in the newspaper saying he doesn't eat properly. Imagine headlines saying he's chubby and fatso. If anyone wants to get a blue print on how to destroy someone, just follow the Toronto Maple Leafs."

Cherry, who had zero success when he ran the Mississauga IceDogs of the OHL, appeared on the Fan 590 on Wednesday night, but did not say much of consequence. He has, apparently, conveniently forgotten that after Kadri had a strong camp in 2009, then-coach Ron Wilson said Kadri would be "a superstar" in the NHL.

Last Friday, Eakins had some pointed public words regarding Kadri's body fat after the Marlies completed conditioning tests, leading to Cherry's tweets.

"His body fat today is probably in the bottom three to five guys in our whole camp and that's unacceptable," Eakins said at the time. "His diet is not where it should be."

The Cherry Twitter rant, and Eakins' sharp response, is the latest feud between Cherry and the Leafs.

Cherry isn't a fan of general manager Brian Burke, something he made clear last season, and he never liked Wilson either.

On Wednesday, Eakins said he was not trying to motivate Kadri, Toronto's 2009 first-round pick, through the media.

"I don't think you push players' buttons in the media," Eakins said. "How I motivate a Ryan Hamilton or Jake Gardiner or Nazem Kadri, or whoever it is, that is stuff I would never come out with because I don't think it is anybody's business."

As for Cherry, Eakins will continue to tune in when HNIC is back on the air.

"Everybody has a right to their opinion," Eakins said. "When we are playing a night game and Hockey Night in Canada is on, I make sure I beg my wife, 'Please tape that game.' I want to watch Coach's Corner and I want to watch the Hot Stove Lounge. I always want to see what Don is going to say, just like the rest of the nation. The one thing for sure is Don is an excellent entertainer. He is great at it."


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