BOSTON -- With the Stanley Cup finals back in Boston, former Bruins coach and legendary hockey personality Don Cherry has returned to the Garden.
Cherry, better known as “Grapes”, coached the Bruins for five seasons (1974-1979) and lost in two Cup finals during his tenure in Boston. He always speaks highly of this city and this organization and that was no different Monday morning, while the Bruins conducted their morning skate in preparation for Game 3 of the Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“I just love coming back here,” he said. “I love hearing the guys with their Boston accent. The security guy let me in my room last night after a few beers and he said, ‘Thanks for coming back, Don. We enjoy it when you’re here.’ I get a good feeling when I come here.
“Even Whitey’s having a trial. I remember him back in the day, what can I tell ya. I remember some of the FBI guys would come on the ice. [Former FBI agent] John Connolly used to come on the ice and skate with us.”
Connolly is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence for murder, racketeering and obstruction of justice, all charges stemming from his association with Bulger.
Turning his attention from the Bulger trial to the Bruins, Cherry has been impressed with Boston forward Brad Marchand.
“The funny thing is, they call him a ‘pest’ but he’s not a pest, he’s a hockey player that’s a little dirty. Maybe [a lot] dirty, but he’s good,” Cherry said. “But he’s not, for sure, he’s not a pest. A pest is a guy who maybe gets four or five goals and gets on the fourth line and stuff like that. He’s my type of guy. He reminds me of Kenny Linesmen, the Rat. Let’s start calling him ‘Rat Junior.’”
After the skate, Marchand was all smiles when told of Cherry’s comments.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a big compliment,” Marchand said. “He’s obviously a legend, especially in Canada. Growing up we’d always watch him and I never thought he’d be saying my name, so it’s definitely a big compliment.”
While everyone has focused on the Bruins’ come-from-behind win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the quarterfinals as the turning point for Boston in the playoffs, Cherry believes it was the Bruins’ Milan Lucic's transformation earlier in that game, which proved crucial to Boston’s win.
“He’s the guy who turned the whole thing around,” Cherry said. “They were losing 2-1 at the time and when [Maple Leafs' Dion] Phaneuf took the swing at him and he turned back and confronted Phaneuf and Phaneuf backed down and [Lucic] got a [roughing] penalty. If you remember, in the penalty box Lucic went a little nuts and he turned into Lucic. I have to tell you, he really wasn’t doing much until then and then he turned into a monster. He turned the whole series around, as far as I’m concerned.”