Don Cherry says NHLers 'nuts' to play at hockey worlds

Don Cherry explained on Sunday why he didn't like the idea of NHLers suiting up for their respective countries in tournaments like the IIHF hockey worlds.

Coach's Corner commentator believes injury risk unnecessary

Canada's Eric Staal lies injured on the ice after a hit by Sweden's Alexander Edler (unseen) at the world hockey championships on Thursday. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

NHL players who opt to represent their countries at the hockey worlds might have a few screws loose.

That’s according to Don Cherry’s theory, at least.

The never bashful Coach’s Corner commentator used his Hockey Night in Canada segment on Sunday to explain why he didn’t like the idea of NHLers suiting up for their respective countries in tournaments like the IIHF world championship.

"Why do these players go over to that world tournament?" asked Cherry. "I coached over there, it’s absolute nonsense; money for Hockey Canada. And they say, ‘if you don’t go over, you’re not a patriot’ or something like that…

"…I’m telling you right now, you players [from the National Hockey League] are nuts going over there [to play in tournaments] because you can send some amateurs over there and nobody would care."

Cherry was particularly upset over a play that left Team Canada forward Eric Staal with what the Carolina Hurricanes announced Sunday was a MCL injury.

During Canada’s 3-2 loss to Sweden Thursday, the Hurricanes captain suffered a knee-on-knee collision after Swedish defenceman Alex Edler ran into him.

Cherry said he thought the play could have been avoided, and that the Canucks defenceman had every chance to let up before hitting Staal.

'He coasts'

"Now I’m going to show you [a hit] where the guy had 20 feet [of ice in front of him], where Edler got Staal," Cherry said. "You’re telling me [Edler] couldn’t avoid this [collision]? Watch this one: He coasts, he coasts and gives him a knee!"

Edler was given a game misconduct on the play and suspended for the remainder of the tournament on Friday.

The Hockey Night in Canada personality also referenced what he believed was a good show of sportsmanship in a similar circumstance during the first period of Game 3 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators.

He praised Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke for avoiding a potentially dangerous situation with Ottawa’s Chris Neil in the neutral zone.

"Watch Cooke, he lets Neil off the hook," Cherry said. "He could have kneed him right there, it would have been a bang-bang play but he let him off the hook [by letting up at the last moment]."