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Cherry and Hull agree, even on fighting

June 05, 2007|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

The fireworks that were expected never quite materialized when colorful and outspoken Canadian hockey analyst Don Cherry sat down next to the outspoken Brett Hull on the NBC set in Ottawa in the second intermission of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday.

They pretty much agreed on everything, including the role of fighting in hockey. Both are strong advocates and didn't hold back, which might have caused a few cringes among NHL and NBC executives.

Cherry blamed the NHL and NBC for curbing fighting, and called it "a big mistake," adding, "Let's return to rock 'em, sock 'em hockey."

He denounced the league and the network for thinking less fighting would increase U.S. viewing audiences.

"I have to laugh," he said. "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life. You've got NASCAR, you've got 'kill the quarterback' in football and Ultimate Fighting."

Hull called fighting "the most honorable thing in hockey."

The Senators' Daniel Alfredsson was the target of blasts by Cherry and Hull for intentionally firing the puck at the Ducks' Scott Niedermayer at the end of the second period.

Hull called it a "gutless play." Cherry said, "That was the dumbest thing ... to do."

In Canada, Cherry is known for strong opinions and colorful outfits.

Earlier exchanges between Hull and regular NBC colleague Ray Ferraro were more volatile.

They disagreed vehemently over whether the NHL was right to suspend the Ducks' Chris Pronger from Monday night's game for his hit on the Senators' Dean McAmmond in Game 3.

Ferraro said yes, calling Pronger "vicious, intimidating."

Said Hull: "Anaheim fans, listen up. Get rid of the 'Brett Hull Stinks' jersey. No, he should not have been suspended."

Said host Bill Clement: "Blatant kissing up."

Hull had angered Ducks fans during the Western Conference finals when he said Anaheim was "terrible" in Game 5 even though the Ducks ended up beating the Detroit Red Wings.

Cherry, at the end of his appearance, asked on air whether he was going to be invited back.

"We'd love to have you back," Clement said.

It might depend on the ratings. The series didn't start well, but Saturday's Game 3 got an L.A. rating of 2.7 and averaged 217,000 viewers. The only sporting event that did better in L.A. that night was the Cleveland Cavaliers' series-clinching victory over the Detroit Pistons, which got a 4.6 rating on TNT and averaged 367,000 viewers.

larry.stewart@latimes.com

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