WASHINGTON - Canadian TV analyst Don Cherry criticized reigning NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin's exuberant goal celebrations. And that prompted Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to fire back at the outspoken personality.
"He'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 Washington's game against Florida on Sunday. "Because he doesn't know Alex like we know Alex."
Prompted by some recent back-and-forth trash talk between Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, Cherry came down on the Russian on Saturday during his "Coach's Corner" segment of the CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada."
Cherry was critical of the way Ovechkin reacts when he scores, which can include fist pumps, leg kicks and face-first jumps into the glass.
Cherry called that "goofy stuff."
"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."
Video of soccer players celebrating goals was shown, followed by video of Ovechkin, who leads the league with 45 goals entering Sunday.
"Now watch Ovechkin. ... Does he not remind you of a soccer player? And that's what Crosby was talking about. Look at him," Cherry said.
Known for his staunchly pro-Canada stance, Cherry gave a long list of hockey players from Canada who should be viewed as role models.
"What I try to do is teach the kids the Canadian way," he said.
Boudreau knows Cherry and his take on things well: Cherry is writing the forward for Boudreau's autobiography due out later this year.
"As much as I really like the guy, I thought he was wrong," Boudreau 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."