DOE’S DARE AMERICANS ARE TAKING ALL THE GOOD OL’ CANADIAN BOYS’ HACKEY JABS 

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Feb 1 2010- Stand-up photo: Don Cherry talks to the media after he touched the "lucky loonie" that was buried in the ice when Canada won hockey gold at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Loonie will be on display for public to touch during February at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. (Photo by David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Don Cherry said something nonsensical with no basis in fact, guys. Let’s talk about this.

 

 

We’ve heard Don Cherry rail about this type of thing before. It is one of my favourite misinformed Cherry rants (no sarcasm, Don entertains me and makes me laugh regularly and I’d love to become his tweeting scribe if the woman who does it now ever tires or if Don outlives her).

It’s hilarious that Cherry believes Eric Knodel, signed yesterday, is some fancy pants college kid who thinks he is above riding buses like all the Canadian semi-professionals do up north, and in some way Knodel hasn’t earned his way into this low-commitment one-year contract. The guy was a long shot, essentially drafted out of high school because of his ‘measurables.’ It was essentially the same pick as the Barron Smith selection two rounds later in the same draft (a big defenceman, he was the son of Steve Smith who played for the Petes. Being from Peterborough and having seen him play, I could’ve confidently told you he had as much of a chance at an NHL contract as I did). Knodel was a raw project player who played one year in the USHL and four in the NCAA, steadily improving along the way and earning himself an NHL entry-level contract at the end of his college career. It’s a story we should all get behind.

First of all, even if Cherry’s claim was true, there is nothing inherently wrong with it unless we can prove it’s what is leading to poor drafting by the Leafs, or dumb free agent signings, or something. But let’s start with the draft, and run the numbers on this claim that the Leafs favour Americans out of the college system for those who might actually still believe there’s some modicum of truth to it. There are certainly Leafs fans out there who will be taking Cherry’s complaint at face value without knowing the facts.

Let’s start with a Canadians/Americans/Europeans breakdown. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll consider draft classes from 2009-2013 (Burke’s first draft to the most recent one, spanning 1053 picks).

 LeagueLeafs
Canadians485 (46%)17 (50%)
Americans279 (26.5%)10 (29.4%)
Euros288 (27.3%)7 (21%)
Total Picks105334

No surprise as this is well documented. The Leafs draft above the League average in terms of Canadians drafted. They also pick above the League average in terms of Americans drafted, and obviously are therefore below the mean in European draft selections. Really, Cherry should be pleased.

As for the whole Ontario players fiasco that took place between Brian Burke, Ron McLean and Cherry when  Burke was still GM, by the way, that was debunked at the time, if you don’t recall. Here is the updated data:

 Ontarians Drafted (NHL)Ontarians Drafted (Leafs)
2009493
2010352
2011363
2012443
2013341
Total198 (1.33 per team per draft)12 (2.4 per draft)

Now, here are the numbers on draft selections out of college, Canadians and Americans included:

 Picks from NCAALeafs picks from NCAA
2013630
2012671
2011614
2010630
2009673
Total (% of Total Picks)321 of 1053 (30.5%)8 of 34 (24%)

(includes both players already with college teams and incoming recruits, numbers per CollegeHockeyNews.com).

Seeing as how Cherry seems to think Knodel was an undrafted signing out of college, what this likely links back to in Cherry’s memory is the number of college free agent signings the Maple Leafs have experimented with over the years, Tyler Bozak and Ben Scrivens both being the most successful examples. These “free wallets” were landed after hotly-contested sweepstakes with nearly all 30 of the League’s teams interested, so of course we were and should’ve been ecstatic the Leafs signed both players (both of whom are Canadian, for whatever it is worth) and were successful as active buyers in the college FA market.

Saskatchewan’s Tyler Bozak has been, at a minimum, a serviceable center for Toronto, and is currently their de facto number one having had a good season in between Kessel and JvR. The Leafs flipped Alberta’s Ben Scrivens and another Canadian kid out of the college system, Matt Frattin, to land their number one goaltender of the future in Jonathan Bernier. These two have had a significant positive impact on the current state of the Leafs roster.

Spencer Abbott has been a moderately successful college signing as the Marlies leading scorer, an AHL All Star and call-up option for the Leafs. He is from nearby Hamilton, Ontario.

Among the duds, Brayden Irwin and Tyler Brenner were Ontario boys from Toronto and Linwood respectively. Christian Hanson was their only college signing who is actually from the United States. But he’s the son of the Hanson from Slapshot, and surely Cherry cannot hate on Brian Burke for tapping into that lineage?

Are these undrafted Canadian players, who made the smart decision to go the NCAA route, get an education and wound up making hockey careers for themselves to varying degrees, effectively dead to Cherry once they leave the Canadian hockey system? It doesn’t make any sense.

Take it away, SB Nation’s Travis Hughes:

[quote_box_center]All told, 30 percent of NHL players are former collegiate players, and as College Hockey, Inc. will proudly tell you, that number has skyrocketed in the last six-to-10 years. The NCAA is a viable alternative for many young hockey players who either don’t want to or are not ready to commit to Canadian Major Junior teams at age 15 or 16, especially when an NHL career is far from guaranteed. The NCAA offers both a college degree and a legitimate chance at the NHL, if you’re good enough.

That’s what this really comes down to: It’s not an NCAA vs. CHL thing, or a USA vs. Canada thing. It’s a skill thing. NCAA free agents are good enough to play in the AHL and “take spots from guys slumming it on buses,” and many are good enough to play in the NHL. (Not that midnight bus trips between Ithaca and Potsdam are glamorous or anything.)[/quote_box_center]

  • steele123

    To be fair Cherry is an idiot.

  • BingoDabber

    Cherry might also be thinking JvR and Kessel, which is hilarious in its own right.

  • deedrag

    Cool article Alec.

  • Great Dane

    What a coach can do to a player, from Tyler Dellow:

    It is striking the extent to which Phaneuf’s Corsi% just collapses
    following DZ faceoffs once Carlyle takes over. The personnel wasn’t
    that different in Toronto from the Wilson era to the Carlyle era but
    Phaneuf’s numbers just collapse. I’m not providing a ton of context
    here in terms of whether those numbers are good but I can assure you
    that they aren’t. The thing is though, we can tell from Phaneuf in
    Calgary and under Wilson that he’s capable of more.
    http://www.mc79hockey.com/?p=6843

  • Xxxxxnew

    Jumped the shark in 1995.

  • JWaterdrager

    He is hilarious tho

  • 4evrblue

    Mornin MLHS
    Cherry is a fool sometimes
    I hope we sign Christian Folin when he hits UFA, will Cherry still complain even though he’s from Sweden?
    Thanks for the writeup Alec, always a pleasure to read your articles

  • MaxwellHowe

    I am no more inclined to debate a point made by Don Cherry than argue with my old man about politics.  There’s no teaching the poor old folk anything.

  • MaxwellHowe

    4evrblue Left out the part that Knodel is 6 foot 6 and 225 pounds.  Yeah, why give a dman with that sort of size a chance?

  • Tim

    Ashamed of this team, see you all at the draft.

  • MaxwellHowe

    @Tim Brevity, I love it

  • WendelGilmour

    Is Finn eligible to join the Maries when Guelph is done?

  • MaxwellHowe

    I still think the Leafs wil beat the Flyers and Red Wings, and then look up at a much more favorable schedule to end the season.  Tho in some ways it would be nice to have the drama end quickly and see Randy twist in the wind.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe  Funny Max . Us older folk think the younger generation are sometimes too good to be told sometimes lol. That said Cherry is an idiot sometime too.

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto WendelGilmour  Don’t have to be over 20 . Gauthier can join them as well . Reilly was with them at 19 last yr .

  • WendelGilmour

    Cool, would like to see him play a little.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe Shouldn’t have spoken so broadly.  You know the type I’m referring to.  You’re online talking ’bout the Leafs.  Fair to say you have a grasp of the world in the 21st century.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Burtonboy  Jus grinding your gears a little bit Max . lol

  • WendelGilmour

    @Burtonboy In that case we may see Gautier first.

  • Burtonboy

    WendelGilmour  Might not . They are doing ok in playoffs I think

  • MaxwellHowe

    WendelGilmour gonna be a crowded blueline.  MacWilliams, Granberg, Percy, Marshall, Holzer, Brennan, Yeo, Knoedel and then Finn.  And I would suppose that if the Leafs get eliminated, Rielly could be sent down as well for the playoff run.

  • Robbies

    BB you are correct….except Gauthier is killing it in the Q’s playoffs
    They are raving about him , here in french Canada

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe crafty old fuck

  • Knights2Leafs

    CanuckUKinToronto
    Good, cause that means he should be joining the Marlies by about April 20th when the Knights knock off the Storm.

  • WendelGilmour

    @Burtonboy Just thinking with Guelph so highly tanked. Either way I’ll be happy.

  • Knights2Leafs

    CanuckUKinToronto  
    Seriously though, there’s a pretty good chance Guelph will be going to the Memorial Cup and not the Marlies.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe WendelGilmour  Don’t think NHLer’s can unless they were sent down so they could be on the clears day roster. The did that with Ashton and Hollond. For the Jr’s its different rules

  • WendelGilmour

    @MaxwellHow Sure will. With a long run it may be helpful.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe WendelGilmour  It will be interesting to see how Spotter handles the black aces

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy MaxwellHowe WendelGilmour Right, right.  Rielly probably needs a break anyway.  Nontheless, Leafs mgt. should clear space for guys like Knodel and Finn.  Its about player development first and foremost IMO

  • Burtonboy

    Robbies  Been keeping a eye on that. Kid has been lighst out every night

  • MaxwellHowe

    Well we can look forward to a fun training camp in the fall at least.  The need to bring a few marlies to the Leafs roster is made more apparent by the emergence of more prospects, like a Finn or Knodel or Brown – who should be playing regularly for the Marlies next year.

  • WendelGilmour

    @Burtonboy @MaxwellHowe It will be interesting. If I recall correctly Eakins got Percy into a couple of playoff games early, then he sat as they advanced.

  • Knights2Leafs

    MaxwellHowe  
    lol – you mean if Carlyle isn’t our coach.

  • Burtonboy

    WendelGilmour  Yeah you never know if they will even play . Reilly did obviously but we all know way . He’s just that good. I have a feeling Finn and Gauthier may get into games if they do go to the A.

  • WendelGilmour

    @Knights2Leafs. I was thinking the same thing. I’m hoping both Guelph and London are in the Memorial Cup.

  • Snots

    How much are the Leaf fans supposed to take?

    a. there is a lockout so nobody plays irking all fans.

    b. we go year after year after year not making playoffs putting us fans up to all kinds of jokes

    c. finally make playoffs and look like we are going out in 5 games

    d. alas its game seven, giving us false hope and we lose, putting us fans up to ridicule all summer

    e. we have a solid playoff record only to choke like a Boston Strangler victim, more ridicule to come.

    we all know they will probably be in the playoffs awaiting the outcome of some game on that Sunday night that the Wings or the Caps need to win and their in.
    And they will….

    Corporations that buy all the seating don’t give a hoot, to them it is like going to the ballet or a movie.

    Oh yeah and theirs that 1967 thing….

    Hockey is not a fun thing to watch anymore,out of the blue they mention the Leafs “struggles” and even the Oilers broadcasters are laughing at Toronto.

    You make it very hard on us … just want you to know that.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Snots  and its CLOUDY here in Florida today !!

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook Snots seriously, how many times a day do you get struck?

  • MaxwellHowe

    Knights2Leafs MaxwellHowe Can’t imagine a scenario where he is around next year

  • Burtonboy

    The more is watch teams in this stretch run the more i realize just how far the leafs have to go on the defense. In fact its more about hard work and stop and go be effective fore checkers and back checkers that’s the problem. Its a puck possession game these days. Until this team learns how to do that they are destined to remain nothing more then a bubble team that will remain out of the playoffs or getting creamed in the 1st rd.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    MaxwellHowe TheCanucksnaphook Snots  What?  I was going to point out the misspelling of theres instead of theirs but its too early to be a douche.

  • Knights2Leafs

    MaxwellHowe
    Honestly, if that happens I truly might have to take a Burtonboy hiatus from following the Leafs.

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    MaxwellHowe TheCanucksnaphook Snots  Did you get blasted with snow too?

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Burtonboy  Think about how many times bernier has seen over 40 shots and tell me our system is ok.

  • Mind Bomb

    Good morning Folks

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook Yes, i can see you’re really easing into it

  • Mind Bomb

    TheCanucksnaphook Burtonboy   Its not, and neither is our Defence :)

  • Knights2Leafs

    CanuckUKinToronto
    Plus Carlyle wasn’t Nonis’ pick so if Nonis values his job he really has no choice but to cut him loose.

  • MaxwellHowe

    TheCanucksnaphook well 120 km/h winds, snow, sleet, rain and destroying many snowblower with the sludge left behind.  In other words, a fairly normal weekday here.