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Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Don Cherry: Matt Cooke is a little rat, Mario Lemieux is a phony

By ESPN.com

CBC "Hockey Night In Canada" analyst Don Cherry is known for not being shy with his opinions, and his latest targets were suspended Penguins forward Matt Cooke and owner Mario Lemieux.

A guest on the Dennis & Callahan radio show on WEEI, Cherry repeatedly called Cooke a "little rat" and said he "should have been straightened out a long time ago."

Don Cherry
Don Cherry said Matt Cooke is "a little rat" who "should have been straightened out a long time ago."
"He should have been tossed for what happened to [Marc] Savard, but they said they didn't have a rule," Cherry said on the show. "The guy never even got four minutes, he never got anything for that. If he had got [suspended for] 20 games then, maybe he would have been straightened out. He should have been suspended for what he did to Savard and he got his comeuppance. ... They should have given him 20-30 games back then and it might have straightened the little rat out."

Cooke landed a blind-side hit on Savard on March 7, 2010. Savard missed two months with a severe concussion and suffered post-concussion syndrome last summer. Savard is on long-term injured reserved due to his second concussion in a 10-month period.

Cherry also criticized Lemieux for publicly calling for the league to fine teams for players who act out on the ice.

"Mario Lemieux. One of the biggest phonies I've ever seen," Cherry said.

"He says, 'we have to get rid of headshots,' and [Pens president] Dave Morehouse says, 'we have to get rid of headshots,' and [general manager] Ray Shero, who I really like, says the same thing. What happens? They've got the [biggest] headshot guy of all time, they're paying his paychecks. What a bunch of hypocrites, I'll tell you."

Cooke was suspended for 10 regular-season games and the first round of the playoffs for an elbow to the jaw of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh. It is the fifth suspension of Cooke's 12-year career.

Cherry blames the equipment, which "is like armor now," and mostly the lack of repercussions since the instigator rule was initiated for changing the game.

"We got little rats running around with visors thinking they are tough.

"We used to police the game," Cherry said. "Guys like Cooke with their visors hanging down, they would have been straightened out a long time ago."

Cherry said that Cooke confronted him during the playoffs and asked the commentator if he wanted to tell him to his face what he had been saying on television. Cherry said he then blasted Cooke but could not say on the air what he said to the forward's face.