You can count Don Cherry among those not impressed by Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference’s decision to publicly classify teammate Daniel Paille’s hit on Raymond Sawada of Dallas Thursday as “a bad hit.”
The former Bruins coach and larger-than-life Canadian media presence had this to say about Ference’s comments on tonight’s Coach’s Corner during the first intermission of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast:
“You do not, I don’t care if your teammate is an axe murderer, what you’ve got to say to the guy that’s there, you go into the dressing room and you tell him that was a dirty hit … you never go to the press like Ference did and say that was a bad hit. The kid’s going to lose $23,000 over that; they don’t need a guy like Ference. And I’m going to tell you something, I’d hate to be in that dressing room right now. See what happened in the game today? 2-0. That brings your dressing room down when you have a guy in the dressing room talking about your own players and you know he’s going to be suspended.”
You can watch the whole segment here:
Cherry went too far in blaming Ference’s comments for the Bruins’ loss today to San Jose. Nothing Ference said two days ago made David Krejci commit a giveaway at the attacking blue line or Milan Lucic miss an open net. But there is some reason to worry that Ference’s decision to voice his honest opinion about a play the eventually cost Paille a four-game ban could cause some dissension in the ranks.
In case you forgot, here’s what Ference said:
“I mean it’s a bad hit, right? That’s what they’re trying to get rid of and you can’t be hypocritical about it when it happens to you, and say it’s fine when your teammate does it. It’s a hit they’re trying to get rid of. I mean you hear it from every player after they do it, they feel bad, and same thing, I talked to Danny and he feels bad. It’s tough, that backchecking forward, to make those kind of hits. It’s so hard to do it in a clean fashion, with the new rules. It is what it is. He hurt the guy, and I’m sure he’ll have a conversation [with the league].”
Paille, without naming Ference, sounded disappointed that any of his teammates would be less than 100 percent behind him when he spoke on Friday. Eric Francis of Hockey Night in Canada and the Calgary Sun followed up with Ference today.
“It’s not about throwing a guy under the bus,” Ference told the Sun.
“It’s about being honest with guys, and if you have a strong room, you can call a spade a spade. I talked to the coach about it, and the only way to be honest about it is to switch jerseys. If it was Bergie [Patrice Bergeron] who got hit, how would we look at it?”
Ference is 100 percent correct, of course. And anyone that’s criticizing Ference, Cherry included, is just sticking to that tired old “code” that got us to the point where the league had to begin cracking down on headshots in the first place. If the league just stuck to “the code” it’d have a league full of cracked heads and players who only utter one of four or five cliches and no marketing of the game.
And just like the Bruins would’ve welcomed teammates of Randy Jones and Matt Cooke coming out in favor of punishments for the hits on Bergeron and Marc Savard, the Bruins — or anyone else — cannot say that Ference should’ve kept it in-house. He knows that next time, he could be on the receiving end of a dangerous hit. The only way to get these types of plays out of the game is for players to stop looking at each other as Bruins or Stars or Penguins and start considering each other as human beings. There’s nothing wrong with publicizing the humanity of this whole thing.