Even at age 80, Don Cherry hasn’t soured on hockey – and fans still love him

Ryan Kennedy
Don Cherry (Adam d’Oliveira photography)

When super draft prospect Connor McDavid broke his hand in a fight in November, the number of hot takes on the matter scorched the media landscape. Everyone was expected to weigh in and NHL players were not immune.

Boston Bruins power forward Milan Lucic was one of them and, given his appetite for truculence, his response was no surprise.

“You definitely respect the fact he’s willing to step up for himself,” Lucic said. “On another point, not contradicting or going against what Don Cherry was saying, it’s good to see that a player of his caliber has that fire.” Read more

Why will Red Wings coach Mike Babcock soon be a $4-million man? Here’s why

Ken Campbell
Mike Babcock (Harry How/Getty Images)

At some point in 2015, Mike Babcock will become the highest paid coach in the NHL. His salary will start with a four, perhaps even a five. Whether it’s with Detroit or somewhere else, Babcock will set a new salary standard for coaches.

And if it’s true that a high tide raises all ships, other coaches around the league should be grateful. We asked a couple of them exactly why Babcock is worth at least $4 million a year and here’s what we were told. Read more

Evander Kane is not a thug…but he does need to smarten up

Ryan Kennedy
Evander Kane (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Evander Kane was scratched by Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice for the team’s game against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, the air-raid siren that I imagine goes off in Winnipeg every time the power forward’s name is mentioned must have been on full blast.

According to Winnipeg Free Press writer Gary Lawless, Kane was booted up to the press box because he wore a sweatsuit to a team meeting instead of an actual suit, a violation of team rules.

For Kane’s detractors in Winnipeg, this was yet another example of the youngster’s bad attitude, hatred for his team and the city and so on. I’m a little more forgiving on the topic.

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Toronto girls’ hockey league’s new no-touch policy between players & coaches source of great debate

Adam Proteau
Girls from the Leaside Girls Hockey Association at Toronto City council in 2009. 
(Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star)

In news that will be welcome to some and troubling to others, a Toronto girls’ hockey league issued an edict to coaches this week that forbids them to touch players on the bench.

On the heels of a complaint to the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association, the league sent coaches an email informing them of the new, zero-tolerance policy on contact with players. The new guidelines also include a ban on social media interactions, and restrictions on when men are permitted to be in dressing rooms and email communication. But the outcry over the email mostly concerns the new rules regarding contact.

“(U)nder no circumstances should there be contact with the players, in any way,” said the directive from John Reynolds, head of the house league. “Putting hands on shoulders, slapping butts, tapping them on the helmet, NOTHING, this can make some of the girls uncomfortable and you won’t know which ones, so no contact, period.” Read more

Five horrible hockey coaching gaffes to rival Pete Carroll’s Super Bowl blunder

Vladimir Myshkin, Team USSR (Eric Schweikardt, SI/Getty Images)

If I’m a fan of the Seattle Seahawks, I’d probably agree their choice to throw on second and goal was a mistake of Titanic proportions.

Given I’m neutral, I see it through a different lens. Running the ball was no guarantee of a touchdown. Marshawn Lynch, it turns out, isn’t efficient at punching it in from the one. And goal-line running plays, as this Pittsburgh Steelers fan can attest (see Jerome Bettis, 2005 AFC divisional playoffs), can have just as dire consequences.

Regardless, of your take, the play will live in infamy and Pete Carroll’s legacy will be attached to it.

But epic coaching gaffes aren’t unique to football. Here are five head-scratchers from our world that ended with massive fails.

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What’s it going to take for Mike Babcock to win the Jack Adams?

Adam Proteau
Mike Babcock (Getty Images)

If there is a hockey god, one of these years, Mike Babcock is going to get recognized as the NHL’s top coach. It didn’t happen for him last year, when he dragged the league’s second-most injured team to its 23rd consecutive playoff appearance; Colorado’s Patrick Roy won it then, and there was a good case to be made as to why he should’ve. Babcock also didn’t win it the season he led Detroit to a Stanley Cup championship; then-Caps coach Bruce Boudreau won it that year. Year-in and year-out, Babcock works with whatever lineup he’s been given – more recently, an injury-riddled roster with star players in their twilight, as well as youngsters developing their game – and wrenches the most out of it.

Despite leading the Wings to at least the second round of the playoffs in six of his nine seasons behind their bench, Babcock has never garnered enough votes among the NHL Broadcasters Association to win the Jack Adams. You understand why it’s happened – voters often look at the “which coach has reversed his team’s fortunes to the most shocking degree” formula (that’s the one Roy won on in 2013-14) – but sooner or later, we need to recognize the value of Babcock’s consistency as at least equal to the one-hit wonder coaches who may or may not have been the beneficiaries of extraordinary, unsustainable goaltending or another factor beyond their control.

If you look at the last 10 Adams winners, three (John Tortorella, Dan Bylsma and Paul MacLean) are currently looking to get back into the league after the expiration of their contracts with the teams that fired them; another three (Lindy Ruff, Alain Vigneault and Bruce Boudreau) were fired by the teams with which they received the honor; and another two (Dave Tippett and Ken Hitchcock) could feel the heat at the end of the current campaign. This isn’t to say any and all of them aren’t deserving. There are great arguments for different coaches every season. It is to say it’s wholly unfair to punish Babcock in the balloting because the Wings organization does an exemplary job of assimilating young talent into the NHL level. Read more

High school coach charged after allegedly shoving, biting referee

Jared Clinton
Taunton High School Logo

A high school coach in Massachusetts has been charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct following an incident in which he allegedly chest-bumped, shoved and bit a referee following his team’s 9-1 loss on Wednesday night.

According to a police report, the altercation was fuelled by an icing call that Taunton High School coach, 46-year-old William C. Kenney III, disagreed with. Kenney was released and pleas of not guilty were entered on his behalf, according to a report from The Boston Globe. Read more

Paul Maurice becomes second-youngest coach to 500 wins

Jared Clinton
Paul Maurice (Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

Paul Maurice has found himself in some very elite company.

With the Winnipeg Jets’ 8-2 dismantling of the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, the Winnipeg bench boss became the second youngest coach (47 years, 348 days) in the history of the NHL to reach 500 wins. The only coach faster? Legendary Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman (45 years, 94 days). Read more