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Ference on Cherry: 'He's dead wrong'

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Fallout from Daniel Paille's hit on Stars forward Raymond Sawada on Thursday continued to be felt following the Bruins' practice on Sunday, with the team reacting to comments made by Don Cherry on CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada" in which he blasted Andrew Ference for criticizing Paille.

“You do not -- I don’t care if your teammate is an ax murderer -- what you’ve got to say to the guy that’s there, you go into the dressing room and you tell him that was a dirty hit. You never go to the press like Ference did and say that was a bad hit. ” Cherry said on Canadian TV Saturday night. “The kid’s [Paille] going to lose $23,000 over that; they don’t need a guy like Ference. And I’m going to tell you something -- I’d hate to be in that dressing room right now.

"See what happened in the game today? Two-nothing. That brings your dressing room down when you have a guy in the dressing room talking about your own players and you know he’s going to get suspended.”

Asked about Cherry's comments, which he said he hadn't heard, Ference defended his stance against such hits like Paille’s.

“I think he’s dead wrong,” Ference said of Cherry. “I’ve said it before based on lots of things, the only people’s opinions I could really give two cents about is -- ask [Zdeno] Chara or ask [Mark] Recchi or ask [Dennis] Seidenberg or anybody in this room. Do it off the record and ask them if it divides our locker room? I think Mr. Cherry’s credibility might take a hit.

"We have an issue with the league and headshots and with those kind of hits. There’s a big push by not only us, but also the NFL to look out for the safety of the players and getting rid of those players is one of those things. Just like I said [Thursday], getting rid of it is getting rid of it and nobody’s here to BS anybody, that’s the way it is.”

Ference dismissed the notion that his comments have created a rift in the Bruins dressing room, a sentiment echoed by numerous teammates.

“It’s a joke, stuff like that doesn’t divide locker rooms,” Ference said. “It’s an issue that has to be taken seriously. It’s a concussion, and these are guys' lives. When you talk about that, it’s not banter, it’s not something that you throw around lightly. Ask Marc Savard how he’s feeling right now or ask [Patrice] Bergeron how his year was when he got hit.

“It’s more than just a thing that you print in the newspaper. It’s a serious issue and it has to be dealt with. You have to be honest about them. It’s going to be discussed and it’s going to be talked about, and it’s going to be an issue that guys are going to have to confront because it can’t happen. It’s dangerous for guys.”

Paille said he didn’t see Cherry’s segment Saturday night but had heard about it from friends. He was asked about any ill will between him and Ference.

“Yeah, I mean obviously on the ice, I’ll do anything I can to back him up with everything on the ice,” Paille said. “It’s just something that he voiced his opinion and I just … obviously I have different views on how I would say things, I guess, but that’s just me. So it’s how he interpreted it and I’ll just deal with it for now.”

The general sentiment around the dressing room was that there are no problems and that Ference’s opinion on concussions is on the mark. It’s an issue that needs to be openly discussed regardless of whether the guilty party is a teammate.

"Obviously, I know Daniel feels bad about what happened," Bergeron said. "He didn't mean to. But at the same time, sometimes those hits can be avoided. I've said that before, and I'm not going to change my speech because it happened with someone on our side."