Don Cherry criticizes Shanahan's disciplinary actions

Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's vice-president of safety, was the target of Don Cherry on Thursday night's Coach's Corner segment for the slew of suspensions meted out during the pre-season.
Don Cherry says NHL vice president of safety Brendan Shanahan, shown here, set a precedent with a 10-game suspension against the Flyers' Jody Shelley in the pre-season. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Fittingly, with baseball’s post-season underway, Don Cherry came out swinging in his first Coach’s Corner segment on Thursday night.

His target was Brendan Shanahan, the National Hockey League’s vice-president of safety and the slew of suspensions handed out during the pre-season.

Cherry’s frustration re-surfaced in the first period of Thursday night's game between Montreal and Toronto when Jay Rosehill avoided a hit against a Canadiens player near the side boards. He also pointed to Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban letting up on a potential big hit against Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel.

"Rosehill has to make the club hitting. He misses him on purpose," said Cherry. "This is what you’re going to see time after time after time and I don’t blame the players one bit."

Cherry said Shanahan set a precedent in late September when he suspended Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley for five exhibition games and five more in the regular season after Toronto’s Darryl Boyce made a play for the puck behind the Flyers net and was driven into the boards from behind, breaking his nose.

"He gives him ten games. Ten games," said Cherry of Shanahan. "You know how many shifts Boyce missed? He only lost two shifts."

Cherry’s anger was only fuelled when on-air partner Ron MacLean suggested Shanahan and the league were experiencing "growing pains" as far as clamping down on head shots this season.

"I’ll tell you one thing," Cherry, who hasn’t watched Shanahan’s explanations for suspending/not suspending players, said. "I’d hate to be paying $175 to watch that stuff.

"Absolutely ridiculous what they’ve done. The players will not hit. Guaranteed. When you give an excuse to the players not to hit, they will not hit."


Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc