Hockey

'Don't care' about Cherry: Ovechkin

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has fired back at Don Cherry, defending Alex Ovechkin against negative comments the CBC Sports personality made about the Russian forward on Saturday night.

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has fired back at Don Cherry, defending Alex Ovechkin against negative comments the CBC Sports personality made about the Russian forward on Saturday night.

"[Don's] a friend of mine. And he's an idol of mine. I mean, I love what Don Cherry has stood for for 30 years. I just think that even the smartest people in the world are wrong sometimes, and I just thought he was wrong," Boudreau said before the Caps' game against Florida on Sunday. "Because he doesn't know Alex like we know Alex."

Cherry put the hammer down on Ovechkin during Saturday's "Coach's Corner" segment on Hockey Night in Canada, spurred by the brewing on-ice rivalry between him and Sidney Crosby.

"I'm going to tell you about this guy: He's got a free ride. He runs at guys, does this stuff," Cherry said. "I am predicting somebody's going to get him. And somebody's going to get him good. There's somebody out there — some big defenceman is going to be sitting in the weeds. As he cuts across centre ice, somebody's going to cut him in half."

Ovechkin responded in a typically irrepressible way after Washington's 6-2 loss on Sunday to Florida.

"He's a funny guy and old guy. He likes old-fashioned hockey," Ovechkin said. "He's not interesting to me, so he can say whatever he wants. I don't care about him."

Cherry said he didn't like the way Ovechkin celebrates goals — he thinks the Russian superstar overreacts when he puts one in the net (as he's done 45 times so far this year) and that there's no place for it in the NHL.

"Now watch Ovechkin. Does he not remind you of a soccer player?" Cherry said, calling his celebrations "goofy stuff."

It sparked Boudreau to come to the defence of his player.

"As much as I really like the guy, I thought he was wrong," he said. "He's pro-Canadian, and there's 33 million Canadians that love that, as anybody would. And if I was sitting at home, I'd be going, 'Yeah, yeah, Canada!' But I just happen to be in the same business as him, so I see it a little differently."

Cherry is writing the foreword for Boudreau's autobiography, due out later this year.

With files from the Associated Press