After being humiliated by the Carolina Hurricanes weeks ago, an undaunted Don Cherry is back with more vitriol.
In his latest Coach’s Corner, Cherry criticized Evgeny Kuznetsov for his latest bird celebration against the Tampa Bay Lightning, calling the Russian center a “jerk” three times.
Kuznetsov scored the game-tying goal with 53 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game 4-4. The goal inspired him to flap his wings. In overtime, he was on the ice for Victor Hedman’s overtime winning goal along with Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov.
“Watch the jerk here now after he scores a goal,” Cherry tells Hockey Night In Canada’s Ron MacLean. “This is a very important game here. This is like the two best teams here. Now he does the jerk thing like this. Now watch the overtime goal Hedman gets.
“[Kuznetsov] is deep in the [offensive zone]. Watch Hedman get the goal. Remember, kids. Hockey Night in Canada. Karma hockey: always come back. He’s not even in the thing. He is a jerk. And he inspires the other team. Remember, kids. Never inspire the other team.”
Cherry’s comments come two months after he ripped Kuznetsov’s bird celebration against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“This happened last week. I couldn’t believe it,” Cherry said. “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.”
But there’s more! During the Stanley Cup Final, Cherry said “I don’t like The Birdman. 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 Brayden McNabb landed on Kuznetsov during intermission of Game Three of the Cup Final.
“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 spoke to Kuznetsov about Cherry’s comments. He took them as a compliment.
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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.”
What a jerk.
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