Don Cherry sticks with Stanley Cup pick but it isn't Edmonton: 'My heart is with the Oilers'

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Former Hockey Night in Canada legend Don Cherry is back it, tossing opinions on his Grapevine podcast about Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Edmonton Oilers and the Florida Panthers, including his take that Florida will win it all.

Asked about the Game 6 goal called back on Florida due to an offside, Cherry said, “That deflates them. It really, really deflates them. It would have made it 2-1. It really deflates them.”

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Cherry is no fan of video review of offside calls. “I still they they should let it go. And it will all come out in the wash.”

Cherry also made it clear he was not a fan of Oilers coaches previously using Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the past on the penalty kill. “I’ve never understood why they killed the penalties. They take a regular shift, they play the power play, and they kill the penalties. What else is there to do?”

Cherry said when he coached and played, he wanted shots to be blocked by penalty killers. “I was one of those guys blocking the shots and nobody cared whether I got hurt or not.”

Asked if McDavid and Draisaitl would be mad about being taken off the kill, Cherry said, “They never blocked many shots. Let’s put it that way. Penalties killers are Nugent-Hopkins, Janmark, McLeod and Brown and they’re doing a pretty good job.”

Cherry had earlier picked Florida to win Game 5 and take the Stanley Cup that night. Now the pressure is on the Panthers, he said. “Because they were up three-to-nothing. They got the pressure on them now. I think they’ll come out smokin’ and I think they’ll win… My heart is with the Oilers, believe me, it is. But my brain says pick Florida.”

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As for the Conny Smythe Trophy, Cherry said Connor McDavid is deserving even if the Oilers lose. “When you get that many points, you should get the MVP, I really believe that.”

McDavid and Oilers head to practice in Florida before Game 7 Stanley Cup Final

My take

1. Cherry always did love the big, rock ’em, sock ’em teams so it’s no surprise he’s picking Florida, a team that has done well with that style of play in 2023-24.

2. Having watched Cherry religiously on Hockey Night in Canada through the 1980s, I always got the feeling that Grapes wasn’t the most enthused of commentators about Wayne Gretzky or the Oilers and their run-and-gun style. Maybe I’m wrong on that, but I never got the sense that Oil’s free-wheeling was his favourite brand.

I’m not sure how he feels about this current incarnation of the Oilers, a team that also marked by superstar offensive talent, but glad to hear his heart is with the Oilers.

My own heart and heart and with the Oilers who have been the better team all series, with 13.5 Grade A shots per game, 9.5 per game for the Panthers. That’s a full goal per game difference.

4. I’m joined in picking the Oilers by the one prominent commentator who has been around even longer than Cherry and is still going strong, Stan Fischler. age 92. Cherry is just 90.

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Said Fischler today, “Dictions and Contradictions aside, my gut remains in the same position — Oilers win Game 7, That, however, in no way suggests that I’m rooting for them. I am rooting for the American team from Dixie and I’ll leave at this: may the better team win, fair and square Period!”


At the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: ‘The most significant NHL game ever?’: Hype getting crazy for Edmonton Oilers vs Florida Panthers in Stanley Cup Final

LEAVINS: Confidence is king in Game 7

STAPLES: ‘The ultimate gut punch’: Hockey world on edge for Game 7

McCURDY: The Oilers stave off elimination yet again, force Game 7

STAPLES: McDavid drags Panthers back to Edmonton for Game 6

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