Getty ImagesOn April 7, Don Cherry stood before CBC cameras and trashed Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"If you want to survive in this league, he's got to suck it up and stop getting stupid penalties and going back at guys," said Cherry, in reference to criticism that Crosby takes some cheap shots and complains to the officials too often.
"Listen, I admire him, but he should be like Guy Lafleur," Cherry said. "All you have to do is look at [Steven] Stamkos, he gets more abuse than anybody. You cannot be the greatest player in the world and expect to get a free ride. And what you've done, you've turned the league and teams against you."
On April 15, Crosby was the catalyst for at least two altercations in a Game 3 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals loss to the Philadelphia Flyers: Pushing away the glove of Jakub Voracek, leading to a fight with Claude Giroux; and later getting into it with Scott Hartnell before Craig Adams rushed in for the save, earning a 1-game suspension for instigating.
After the game, Crosby grinned through questions about his actions, saying "I don't like them, because I don't like any guy on their team."
On April 16, Don Cherry became a Sidney Crosby fan again.
"I've always given it to Crosby all the time, but I gotta tell you something folks: He could have bailed in that game. [It's] 7-4. They weren't going anywhere. He even double shifted to get out there," said Cherry on Coach's Corner.
"And let me tell you something: I admire him more for doing that than anything."
Here's more of Don Cherry on Sidney Crosby; watch the full segment here.
"He got blamed — get this — he got blamed for Hartnell … everybody's talkin' about Crosby going up and punching him in the back of the head. It wasn't that at all — he had a hold of Crosby's stick was pulling him along! And he gets accused of punching him! [Hartnell] gave him a little head butt too ….
"I have to say that's his game. He needs to be smart, to be like Guy LaFleur. But that's gotta to be his game. And that's the way he's gotta play. You could see there, he was ready. He never quit, and that's what I like about it."
"I have to laugh: He's like Gretzky and a lot of other guys. He's always accommodating to reporters. Every time you see the poor guy, that's the first guy they go to all the time. And you hear the reporter say [in a fey robotic voice] 'Why did you move his glove?'
"'I don't like'em' he says.
"[In a fey robotic voice] 'Well why don't ya like'em?'
"You gotta sit there and listen to nonsense like that?
"I've made a complete change on Crosby. Go ahead!"
In essence, Cherry went from being the guy telling Sidney Crosby "stop getting stupid penalties and going back at guys" to celebrating Crosby for going back at guys, taking stupid penalties but double-shifting at the end of a blowout loss.
But, as usual, Cherry taps into the Great Debate over the Penguins vs. Flyers melee: Was Sidney Crosby exhibiting leadership by goading the Flyers and battling until the end?