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Squaring off on 'Coach's Corner'

He was a better hockey coach than a player, and a better commentator than a coach. But as Don Cherry's career gained momentum, so did the controversy. Brash, outspoken and flamboyant, Cherry has the biggest mouth in hockey. It's a quality that Canadians either love, love to hate, or just hate. From his time on ice to his time on air, Don Cherry's unrestrained commentary has often landed him in hot water.

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Saturday night's all right for fighting, at least on Coach's Corner. An irascible Don Cherry regularly uses the popular commentary segment (appearing during Hockey Night in Canada game intermissions) to blast any player who gets his back up. This week's target is Pavel Bure, the subject of a nasty contract negotiation rumour. Defending the Russian superstar is his coach, Pat Quinn, who more than matches Cherry's bile. As we see in this montage of their separate interviews, tempers quickly flare. 
• Don Cherry began appearing on Hockey Night in Canada in 1980 with host Dave Hodge on a segment called Coach's Corner. The segment has been on the air for more than two decades with host Ron MacLean. The entertaining, often controversial segment is so popular that it is rumoured to get higher audience ratings than the games themselves.

• Pavel Bure earned the nickname "the Russian Rocket" by becoming one of the game's fastest attackers, rivalling the original "Rocket," Maurice Richard. Bure made his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks in 1991-1992 and was the league's rookie of the year. In 1998 he refused to play for the Canucks and returned to Russia. Bure was traded to the Florida Panthers midway through the season and later to the New York Rangers.

• Bure was a regular subject of rumour and speculation about everything from alleged links to the Russian mob to dating tennis star Anna Kournikova. The rumour Cherry leaps on in this clip came from newspaper reports that followed Game 5 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. Bure was said to have threatened to not play unless the Canucks renegotiated his contract. Bure denied the rumour and played in all the games in the series, which ended in a seventh game loss to the Rangers.

• This wasn't the first time Don Cherry had berated Pavel Bure. In a 1995 playoff game, Bure kicked the skates out from under opponent Keith Tkachuk. Cherry, who had a penchant for criticizing foreign players in the league, cried foul. "You'd never catch a Canadian kid doing that," he said. "Bure, you little weasel!" Vancouver fans demanded an apology, and even sold T-shirts emblazoned with "Weasel Power." Bure, asked for a comment, said, "Would you comment on the clowns in the circus?"

• Bure said that although he had asked to be traded in the past, he had a handshake agreement on a new contract with the Canucks before the playoffs began and made no such demand.

• While Pat Quinn here denies the rumour, he later told Sports Illustrated that one of Bure's agents had indeed made the threat that Bure would sit out of the playoffs if he didn't get a new contract. Quinn said he believes Bure's assertion that he was unaware of his agent's threat.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Evening News
Broadcast Date: March 27, 1995
Guest(s): Don Cherry, Pat Quinn
Host: Ron MacLean
Duration: 1:55

Last updated: April 13, 2012

Page consulted on December 23, 2014

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