Don Cherry Rants About How Good the CHL is at Training Foreign Players

Bruce Bennett

Sour Grapes wants Canada to be worse at training hockey players because they're accidentally benefiting everybody.

[Update: Story moved back to the top because Cherry Subtweeted about it today and created the term "Trash Newton", along with admitted he had to use a dictionary for some of it.]

If you've missed Don Cherry's weekly Coach's Corner rants during the NHL lockout, then you've been doing yourself a drastic disservice by not following Cherry's Twitter feed, @CoachsCornerCBC. With that feed, Cherry saves us all the trouble of typing out the hilariously short-sighted, xenophobic, and jingoistic trash to make fun of on Twitter, as he does it for us (or as Graham said, probably types out on a typewriter and then hands them to an assistant saying "internet this!").

Today, the wake of team Canada's WJC Semifinals loss to the United States came to a head for ol' Grapes, as he more-clearly laid out a stance we all knew he had in the first place.

Powerful stuff from a guy who just wants Canada to always be the very best hockey nation in the world at every competition. The argument is fairly solid from a straightforward standpoint: stop training non-Canadians in the most-competitive junior league in the world and non-Canadian players suffer from the lack of this training. The net change is that Canadians get better at hockey by virtue of everybody else getting worse.

The problem is that, like everything, this isn't a straightforward issue. Considerations like this are downright Newtonian in nature and the "terk er jerbs" mentality of xenophobes kind of forget exactly from whom the most-skilled people in any specific area are taking those jobs. Great hockey players are always going to be trained somewhere. Either that, or the sport dies.

A guy "stealing" the #1 spot in the CHL (or any foreign league, for that matter) isn't taking the #1 guy's job, he's taking his ranking. As rankings go, they're fairly straightforward. Nail Yakupov didn't take a job from the best prospect in Canada, he took a job from the very worst. There are about 1500 players in the CHL's 60 teams. Yakupov's play meant that the 1,501st-best junior player in the entire world (presumably Canadian) didn't get an opportunity to compete for one of the 200 or so NHL jobs that would come available to him when he reaches eligibility to play in the world's best league.

It sucks for that guy, but if there's anything that's fair and good for hockey, it's pushing worse guys out in favor of the better ones. There are plenty of places where that's not true; sports is not one of them. If anything, it should work as a motivation for that 1,501st-best player to claw his way above somebody else in the rankings.

What's more is that replacing the 120-ish foreign players in the CHL is only going to fill 120-ish roster spots with inferior players. It's hard to tell what's the cart and what's the horse here, but I tend to think that worsening the overall talent pool in the league will also limit that league's ability to create the best-possible players.

With all five of the goals in Team USA's WJC victory over team Canada coming from NCAA players, I'm not sure Canada can afford to drive the world's best players to other countries' development programs.

[Update: Story moved back to the top because Cherry Subtweeted about it today and created the term "Trash Newton".]

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