Why is Don Cherry fixated on Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban?  When has an NHL rookie warranted this much air time on Hockey Night in Canada?  

Cherry went off on his fourth anti-Subban rant of the season on Coach’s Corner between periods of Saturday’s  Toronto/Boston game.

Watching this, you have to ask yourself, “Where does honest hockey criticism break off and take on something that goes beyond the game itself?”  Certainly after things said by Mike Richards of the Flyers and some of the other stuff that’s followed Subban around this season, there seems to be a concerted effort to “put him in his place”.

Saturday’s attack by Cherry was a self-serving “I told you so” which barely touched on the real reason Subban became a healthy scratch for the last two games, which were the rookie mistakes he made in the game against Edmonton on Wednesday and instead, repeated his attacks on Subban’s playing style and on-ice demeanor. It started when Mike Richards of the Flyers, after a loss to the Canadiens singled out Subban for being “disrespectful”.  That one really got Cherry started.   He used a verbal run-in with Buffalo’s Tyler Myers November 27th as an excuse to  state that “everybody in the league dislikes him.” 


The only thing missing from Cherry’s preaching is an actual bounty on Subban’s head although at one point he actually went out of his way to demonstrate how opponents could deliberately set out to hurt him. 

Clearly, Subban doesn’t fit what Cherry thinks a “Canadian hockey player” should look like.  There are others in the league with far more disrespect for fellow players, including Mike Richards, who don’t have to go through these weekly attacks.  They escape criticism because, by Cherry’s standards, they look like  “Canadian hockey players.”  Somehow, to Cherry, Richards, and Myers,  Subban doesn’t. 

Here’s the way the exchange between Ron McLean and Cherry unfolded, a conversation that included a deliberate and insulting anglicizing of Jacques Martin’s first and last name, not once, but twice. 

Ron McLean “Second game in a row, P.K. Subban was out today for Montreal.

Don Cherry “All right. A healthy scratch. I tried to warn this kid…every week I tried to warn him, ‘you gotta play with the team. You can’t be running around doing stupid things’. Every guy in the media after that (said) “Well I don’t think so. He’s an exciting personality”. All you guys out there that don’t know. “he’s so exciting” “personality”. You can’t play that way and Jack (sic) Martin realized he gave two goals away. You gotta play within the team. Now, the guy’s a good player. He will play. He’s got to realize he’s not a hot dog out there. Play the way you can play and you can get back in the lineup.

McLean – It’s a little tricky now. They’ve won two in a row. Do you keep him out?

Cherry – Of course. You’re not going to put him in until they lose a game. Put him in …yeh…but Jack Martin knew…..I know. Other people don’t know. That’s why they watch coach’s corner.

Here is entire Coach’s Corner. The Subban attack begins at 2:30.