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Don Cherry speaks

by Adam Kimelman
Don Cherry never is shy about having an opinion, whether it's on the famed Coach's Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada, or this morning at the Air Canada Centre following Team Cherry's practice prior to tonight's Top Prospects Game.

Here are a few highlights from Cherry's meeting with the media:

Still have fun doing this? "We still have a lot of fun. When you see a goaltender like that Owen Sound guy (Jordan Binnington) stand on his head, it reminds me of (Roberto) Luongo (in 1997). I remember him with Bobby Orr, we were in Maple Leafs Gardens and we outshot them 17-1 and we were losing 1-0. To see these guys coming up, you think of 2003 in Kitchener and (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Dion) Phaneuf and Marc-Andre Fleury, to see them … it's still a lot of fun."

What's your message to the kids? "We told them you can never, ever drop (in the rankings). But you can … and I go back to Dan Cleary. Dan Cleary when he came, he was from Belleville, Newfounland, not many people knew him. He had a hell of a game and he jumped like you couldn't believe. The big thing is, everything's got to be quicker because everybody is good here. You see them against their peers and the whole deal. There are going to be 200 guys here watching you. If you're a banger, you have to bang -- you have to do your thing. If you just grab your wing and go back, it doesn’t do you any good. That's why you see sort of an open-ice game."

What about keeping the kids level-headed playing in Air Canada Centre? "I think when we first started it was like that. The very first game (at Maple Leaf Gardens) they were in awe. These guys are a lot more mature. It doesn't seem to bother them as much. The very first game, I went in and I thought we were going to have some fun. At the end of the first period, no way. You don't hear any laughter in there. On the ice, you could see it this morning. I don't think it's fun for them. Might be a little fun for us, but it's not fun for them. We have to go in there as coaches and can't be laughing or jerking around, because they don't appreciate it. It's not an All-Star game. I remember Phaneuf hitting that kid and the fight after in Kitchener. We almost had a fight in 3-on-3 last night. Not that I'm saying they should fight, but you can see the intensity."

Coaching in the game with Brian Kilrea: "It's lovely to see Brian. The kids really like Brian Kilrea. He stands at center ice, and if you stand beside Brian Kilrea in these games, its unbelievable. Daniel Briere, I remember Daniel Briere (in 1996), he kept going longer on his shifts. Because there's television here I can't tell you what he called him, but he wanted me to bench him. And I said how do I bench a kid in the prospect game? He takes it serous. We all take it serious. We don't fool around."

Which kids have stood out to you? "That goaltender, Binnington, was unbelievable. He went the 15 minutes (in the 3-on-3), all we needed was one goal, we were up 11-6 when he went in. He shut us out for the 15 and he shut everybody out in the shootout. He's the one that's impressed me the most."

What are your thoughts on Sean Couturier? "I like his size right off the bat. He can handle the puck. I don't know if he'll be 1 or 2 (at the Entry Draft), but he looks like a dandy."

Thoughts on Ottawa's Shane Prince being on Team Cherry? "I like his name right off the bat. I gotta watch Brian doesn't put him on all the power plays. But he can fly out there."

For those who might not realize it, Kilrea is the GM of Prince's club, the Ottawa 67's.
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