Ovechkin due for another scolding

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:59 AM ET

One of the enduring attractions of Don Cherry is that there are any number of ways to react to his act.

You can laugh. You can stomp your feet in outrage. You can agree with everything that spews from the mouth of the iconic king of Coach's Corner.

Or you can sit back and just enjoy the show.

But for those people who take him too seriously, it's their loss. In a curious way, the same can be said about Grapes' latest foil, Washington sniper Alex Ovechkin.

When Ovechkin scored his 50th goal Thursday night and launched into a wild celebration, it became the talk of the hockey world yesterday. But was it any more bizarre than some of Cherry's rants?

The irony, of course, is that both are as much about entertainment as they are about content and both have growing legions of detractors.

One of the more interesting aspects, though, is that Cherry is becoming part of the Ovechkin story, as we saw when the topic came up in a post-game interview.

"He's going to be mad for sure, I love it," Ovechkin said when asked about a possible Cherry reaction following the Caps' 5-2 win over Tampa Bay. "I can't wait till he says something about me. Old coaches, old system, you know?"

Odds are strong Cherry will take the bait and guess what: Millions of Canadians will be waiting to hear what he says.

Meanwhile, Cherry supporters were vocal in their reaction to Ovechkin.

"He came down a notch in my book," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "I grew up in the old days of the Spectrum (when he played for the Flyers). The first period after that happened might have been a three-hour period. It's hard for me to see that in our building."

Hip, hip

Renowned Vail, Colo, hip surgeon Marc Philippon added to his celebrity of late for his recent effort to repair the torn labrum of Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.

But Philippon has weaved his magic on hockey players as well, with his most recent patients including Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala and prior to that, Minnesota forward Marian Gaborik.

When A-Rod heard of Gaborik's surgery, he asked for a meeting with the Wild star and the two got together recently.

"He just wanted to know what to expect, how I'm feeling, what I'm doing as far as treatment," Gaborik said of his 15-minute meeting. "Everybody knows A-Rod. Nice guy. Huge, huge guy. He doesn't look like that on TV."

Something Blue

While former boss Doug MacLean fills the airwaves as both a television and radio expert based in Toronto, his replacement as general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Scott Howson, has done a solid job in building a contender.

The Jackets have yet to clinch a playoff spot in the wild west, but they are getting closer. Columbus has set a franchise record of 37 wins and matched the franchise mark for points with 80. Even in this dour economy, the team is bucking a mostly league-wide trend drawing roughly more than 1,000 fans per game than a year ago.

"We haven't accomplished anything yet," Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said.

"But we're a good enough hockey club to make it now and we're going to be a very good club that makes the playoffs for a lot of years to come."

Sabre tooth-less

The Buffalo Sabres entered a crucial stretch of games last night when they played host to the Flyers while desperately trying to keep their playoff hopes alive.

After losing 4-2 to Ottawa on Tuesday, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff showed his frustration at going 1-4-1 in the season series against a team that has emerged as one of the NHL's bottom feeders. The Sabres have been an underachieving 8-9-4 against the 11th to 15th ranked teams in the East.

"I'm embarrassed for our fans, embarrassed for the way we played the last 40 minutes," Ruff said. "It's not acceptable for this time of year."


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