TORONTO - Don Cherry says he can't believe the Toronto Maple Leafs would be "dumb enough" to not salute fans at Air Canada Centre following their win on Thursday.
The Leafs, who broke an ugly three-game losing streak by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2, didn't raise their sticks to the crowd as they left the ice — a move the popular hockey commentator called "unbelievable" during his Coach's Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday.
"This is the biggest thing I've ever seen in my life in Toronto," Cherry said. "Here these guys do for some reason, they do not salute the crowd. ... I couldn't believe they would do something like this to the fans."
Cherry said the players' decision to not raise their sticks Thursday night stemmed from an incident back on Oct. 11 when a fan threw a Leafs jersey onto the ice during the third period of a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
That game was Toronto's first Saturday night home game of the season, and it gave the Leafs an 0-2-0 record to start the year.
"Now everybody thinks that this guy is a passionate fan," Cherry said while footage of the jersey being thrown onto the ice played over his voice. "This guy's a jerk who threw it on, that doesn't care about the Leafs at all. ... He's a jerk and that started the whole thing."
But while Cherry chastised that particular fan, he maintains that wasn't a good enough reason to not salute the crowd.
"They get about four guys who throw sweaters, 100 guys who holler 'Raptors', and they do that to 18,000 people," Cherry said. "They're going to pay the price, I'll tell you one thing. They get blown out again, they get blown out 9-2 (against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday) and they wonder why they get booed — unbelievable to me.
"They'll be ready every game now because they've put pressure on themselves."
The Leafs saluted the crowd Saturday night following their 4-1 home win over the Detroit Red Wings.