Don Cherry says if the National Hockey League doesn't rein in its linesmen over the faceoff controversy, it could cost someone the Stanley Cup.
The Coach’s Corner commentator was speaking on Hockey Night in Canada to another in a series of incidents during the first round of the playoffs that have seen linesmen throw numerous players out of the faceoff circle – more often than not from the home team whose player is supposed to put a stick down last.
Thursday night’s game in Chicago between the Minnesota Wild and the Blackhawks brought the issue to its most recent head, the former coach said. At 7:38 of the opening frame, a Hawk forward was thrown out by the linesman.
That brought Viktor Stalberg in, and he was kicked out, earning the team a rare “faceoff violation” penalty and the wrath of the Chicago coach, Joel Quenneville, towards the officials.
“You can’t do this stuff,” said Cherry, of the linesmen. “I’m going nuts because I think as a coach. I’m with [Quenneville] … because he knows, and I know, that it could cost you a Stanley Cup with stupid things like that.
“And [the NHL] better get these guys under control.”
This wasn’t the first time Cherry has criticized the linesmen, who have been under increasing pressure from coaches, players and media over the tight rules around who puts their stick down first [the visiting player], who puts it down last [the home player], and what constitutes a violation.
Phaneuf under fire
Cherry also came to the defence of Dion Phaneuf, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ captain, who pinched from the blue-line on Wednesday night in overtime, allowing Boston’s David Krejci to take off on the two-on-one the other way and score the winning goal.
Phaneuf had been taking a lot of criticism over the following two days leading to Friday’s Game 5.
“Everybody is on him, and if you look at it, he could have been a hero,” said Cherry. “I know they lost and everything like that, but he took a chance. “You’ve got to do that in the playoffs.”