- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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When CBC "Hockey Night In Canada" analyst Don Cherry gives his take on the latest hot topics in the NHL on his weekly segment “Coach’s Corner,” the hockey world listens. On Saturday night, it listened to the former Bruins head coach blast current Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference for his comments regarding teammate Daniel Paille's controversial hit on Stars forward Raymond Sawada Thursday night.
The hit that cost Paille a four-game suspension and a $23,000 fine, fell right in line with Rule 48, which was instituted to prevent blindside hits to the head like the one that Penguins forward Matt Cooke laid on Ference’s and Paille’s teammate Marc Savard last season -- one that the Bruins termed “dirty” at the time and campaigned against.
Following the game Thursday night, Ference spoke his mind on Paille's hit.
“I mean it’s a bad hit, right?” Ference rhetorically asked the media Thursday night. “That’s what they’re trying to get rid of, and you can’t be hypocritical about it when it happens to you and say it’s fine when your teammate does it. It’s a hit they’re trying to get rid of.
"I mean you hear it from every player after they do it, they feel bad -- and same thing, I talked to Danny and he feels bad. It’s tough, that backchecking forward, to make those kind of hits. It’s so hard to do it in a clean fashion, with the new rules. It is what it is. He hurt the guy, and I’m sure he’ll have a conversation [with the league].”
On “Coach’s Corner” on Saturday night, Cherry took exception with Ference’s comments, calling the defenseman out for breaking an unspoken code of not publicly calling out your teammate. Cherry even went as far as laying some blame on Ference for the Bruins' 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon, suggesting that Ference’s comments might have divided the dressing room.
“You do not -- I don’t care if your teammate is an axe 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 adamantly to co-host Ron Maclean. “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.”
Earlier in the day Ference spoke to Calgary Sun columnist Eric Francis to explain his comments. Ference claimed he was simply being honest about the situation.
“It’s not about throwing a guy under the bus,” Ference told the Francis. “It’s about being honest with guys, and if you have a strong room, you can call a spade a spade. I talked to the coach about it and the only way to be honest about it is to switch jerseys. If it was Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] who got hit, how would we look at it?”