When Don Cherry chooses to go on the attack, his targets generally decide fighting back is pointless. Maple Leaf coach Ron Wilson, for instance, has declined all season to respond to Cherry repeatedly goading him with derisive names for his coaching decisions.
Well, one NHL rookie isn't about to be ridiculed by the Hockey Night in Canada icon without urging Cherry to at least try to get his facts straight.
Being a good Canadian boy who once rode shotgun for John Tavares, worked his way up from the minors and has no problem dropping the gloves from time to time, Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild was certainly surprised to be ridiculed as "Buttercup" by Cherry on Saturday night's Coach's Corner.
Cherry ripped Clutterbuck as "cowardly" for refusing to take his helmet and visor off during fights, and then taking it off as he skated to the penalty box after recent fights against Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes and Ian White of the Maple Leafs.
|Clutterbuck and Staios with visors on Jan. 30.|
But in an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribuine, Clutterbuck rejected Cherry's version of events.
"If you look at the incidents, first time I asked (Yandle) to take our helmets off, and he said, 'No,' said Clutterbuck. "I'm not going to be the only guy to fight and take my helmet off. The second time against White, he jumped me from behind. So what does (Cherry) want from me? I mean, what do you want me to do? Really."
Replays apparently supported Clutterbuck's version of the Yandle scrap. In the case of White, Clutterbuck was involved with Lee Stempniak of the Leafs when White interceded.
Clutterbuck, from Welland, Ont., noted he fought Steve Staios of Edmonton last week, an NHLer who also wears a visor, and both players kept their helmets on. "(Cherry) didnt' show that. I don't know why," said Clutterbuck. "I think what he does for the game in Canada, he's an icon, but I'm going to have to disagree with him on what he says."
It's never easy to understand why Cherry supports some but not others. When Chris Simon used his skate on an opponent last season and received a lengthy suspension, Cherry declined to offer nary a critical word. Jason Spezza, who walked out on Cherry and the Mississauga Ice Dogs as a junior player, remains one of Cherry's favoured sons.
These days, it's a wonder anyone would be counselling hockey players to take their helmets off during a fight after the death of a senior league player in a game after his helmet fell off during a fight and he subsequently struck his head on the ice.