Don Cherry waded into the Capitals-Blue Jackets recent bird celly drama during his latest Coach’s Corner, Saturday night.
On January 12, Evgeny Kuznetsov did his iconic celly by the Blue Jackets bench after tying the game late in the third period. The Blue Jackets responded by doing the bird celebration back as a team after Artemi Panarin scored in overtime.
Cherry mocked people who say expression is good for the game and told Kuzy to “not make fun of a team when you score.”
Here’s the conversation transcribed. I edited some for clarity.
Ron MacLean: Birdman…
Don Cherry: Remember now how many times… I know you people, people on this thing said… and there’s Jagr saluting.
[Cherry speaks in an exaggerated high-pitched voice.] Young men expressing himself. I think it’s a really good thing they’re expressing themselves.
And you see what Makarov does. A few other guys. And there’s Rupp giving him the salute.
Players remember. This happened last week. I couldn’t believe it. The Birdman. Look. He gives ’em that in front of their bench. Watch what Columbus does when they scored. The Birdman. Watch this in Columbus.
You do not make fun of a team when you score. You play the game. That’s the Canadian way. You listen to me. Don’t listen to anybody else.
This is not the first time Cherry has come down hard on Kuznetsov. During the Stanley Cup Final, Cherry complained about the Capitals star Russian centerman.
“I don’t like The Birdman,” Cherry said then. “You can celebrate. Ovi celebrates. The only player I don’t like is The Birdman. Whatever his name is.”
The analyst also celebrated big hits by Brayden McNabb on Kuznetsov during intermission of Game Three of the Finals.
“Watch him do The Birdman. [McNabb] gets The Birdman pretty soon,” Cherry said. “You can see, he gives him an extra shot. Wise guy, you’re going to get it. He gets it pretty good. Watch McNabb get him here. You wanna be a wise guy, remember kids, you wanna jump around, this is what happens to ya. I used to give them the extra little shot there all the time. And tonight he gives it to him again, but he didn’t hurt him.”
After the Capitals won the Stanley Cup, I asked Kuznetsov about Cherry’s comment and his dislike of him at breakdown day.
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Don Cherry criticized Evgeny Kuznetsov for his bird celebration on tonight's Coach’s Corner. Cherry also gave Kuzy some flak for the bird celly during last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs too. RMNB's @ianrmnb asked @kuzy092 what he thought about Cherry during breakdown day last June. (🎥: @ianrmnb, @hockeynight)
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“He’s nice guy, you know?” Kuznetsov said. “Sometimes I did watch his videos (when I was young in Russia). If Don Cherry talking about you, that mean he thinking about you. Even if it’s bad stuff, it’s still good. He’s legit, people love him.
“If you tell me that probably like eight years ago, I would give you emotional answer, I would give you some answers you need from me right?” Kuznetsov continued. “But right now…I don’t really care. I more care what my family, what my teammates thinking about me. I still appreciate it. He have to watch a couple of my goals this summer you know? Because it’s going to be on the TV. It’s fine, he can live with that too.”
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