Don Cherry's heart says Bruins, but his head says Canucks.

The Hockey Night in Canada icon admitted before the Stanley Cup final opener on Wednesday that, despite his desire to see a Canadian-based team crowned NHL champion, he remains loyal to the franchise with which he rose to stardom as a coach in the 1970s.

"You always want to see a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup, and the people are going crazy here, so it would be nice," Cherry said by phone from his Vancouver hotel room. "But I've been with the Boston Bruins since I was 14 years old — I played for them and coached for them, so I have to tell you my heart is with the Boston Bruins."

Sentiment aside, Cherry, who guided Boston to back-to-back final appearances in 1977 and '78, doesn't favour the Bruins to win their first Cup since 1972 — three years before he took over as head coach.

"The way Vancouver has been playing — they're well rested, all their injured players are back — I'm thinking that if I was betting, I'd bet on the Vancouver club right now," he said.

"They've got everything going for them. They've got firepower, they've got a good defence, and they can hardly wait to get going."

Cherry said Boston's hopes for an upset may rest on Vezina Trophy favourite Tim Thomas, even though the Coach's Corner star considers the goaltending duel between Thomas and Roberto Luongo "about a wash."

"If Timmy Thomas is playing like Timmy Thomas, Vancouver is going to have a tough time, I'll tell ya, because he is on a mission," Cherry said. "He's hot as a firecracker. He can be outshot and still win the game."

Cherry also said he was pleased by Tuesday's announcement that the NHL is returning to Winnipeg, and he envisions more Canadian-based teams on the way.

"I think it's great, another Canadian team. I don't think they should have left in the first place. They're going to be dynamite. They will be one of the best franchises in the league.

"I think Quebec is next, and then a team around Toronto."