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Cherry picking Canada for Olympic gold

by Mike G. Morreale
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Hockey Night In Canada analyst Don Cherry is geared up for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver next month.

Cherry understands the immense pressure Team Canada is facing as the host country for the first time since 1988 (Calgary).

"I remember finishing seventh in 2006 and how heartbroken they all were," Cherry said. "We have to win the gold, not silver. You can't believe the pressure. I've been involved (internationally) in '76 with the Canada Cup and we went into that final game with the Czechs feeling it. You're actually shaking. Then, when you win it, it's not even like a relief, either. They just have to win or they'll be talked about for a long time. It's our game."

But first, Cherry has a very busy day coming Saturday, as he joins Ron MacLean to broadcast from Allman Arena in Stratford, Ont., beginning at noon ET, as CBC will carry 13 1/2 hours of hockey-related content, including three NHL games, to celebrate Hockey Day in Canada.

Before becoming one of Canada's most outspoken hockey commentators, Cherry was a pretty successful NHL coach.

During the 1975-76 season he won the Jack Adams Award as the League's top coach after leading the Boston Bruins to a 48-15-17 record before losing a five-game series to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Cherry also joined fellow coaches Scotty Bowman, Bobby Kromm and Al MacNeil in helping lead Team Canada to the 1976 Canada Cup title following a two-game sweep of Czechoslovakia in the final.

For the most part, Cherry agreed with the majority of players named to Team Canada. Still, there were two he was surprised to see omitted.

"I thought Jordan Staal should have been on because of his (penalty-killing) ability," Cherry said. "He's magic and he's the guy you put out there on 3-on-6 situations.

"I was kind of surprised that (Mike) Green never got picked, either. I think of all the guys who didn't get picked, Green's the guy that's really heartbroken and the way he's playing now, he's out to prove they were wrong in not choosing him. So I think those two guys should have been on. But again, I'm sure some of the guys I like, they wouldn't want, either."

Green is the only player in the NHL with three eight-game point streaks this season and he's scored points in 35 of the Washington Capitals' 50 games this season. He leads all NHL defensemen with 12 goals and 50 points, becoming the fifth Capitals defenseman to post three straight 50-point seasons (Scott Stevens, Sergei Gonchar, Kevin Hatcher, Larry Murphy). Green has led NHL defensemen in goals each of the past two seasons.

Staal has 13 goals and 34 points in 54 games for Pittsburgh. He also leads the team with 2 shorthanded goals.

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