Don Cherry was making another bid display of anti-European player bias during Coaches Corner last night by highlighting players like, Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Corey Perry. He asked, what does this players have in common? All of them are from Southern Ontario and the Leafs are too busy drafting Europeans to have any of them.
Excuse me Mr. Cherry!? Joe Thornton was drafted first overall in 1997. How could the Leafs have taken him? They didn't even have a 1st or 2nd round pick.
Jason Spezza was drafted 2nd overall in 2001. The Leafs did not pick until 17 and took Toronto boy Carlo Colaiacovo.
Eric Staal was taken 2nd overall in 2003 and Corey Perry 28th. The Leafs did not have a pick until 57th - where they took American John Doherty.
Let's look at the last several years for the Leafs.
2005 - Tuuka Rusk - G, 21st. Can anybody dispute that the Leafs will need a goaltender. Finish or otherwise
2004 - No pick until the 3rd Round. They took Canadian Goalie Justin Pogge.
2003 - No pick until the 2nd Round. They took American Defenseman John Doherty.
2002 - 24th pick, Alex Steen. Can you find a better Canadian taken after him? Maybe Matt Stajan taken 57th by the Leafs.
2001 - 17th pick, Carlo Coloaiacovo - sure he hasn't made it (yet) but the only other option would have been Jeff Woywitka - it was a pretty slim draft.
2000 - 24th pick, Mississauga resident, Brad Boyes.
How far back do you want to go? Was there a Canadian better than Luca Cereda taken 24th overall in 1999? Not really - unless you go with Mike Commodore - another year of bad depth in the draft.
You have to go all the way back to 1999 for the Cherry to have a point. The Leafs took Nikolai Antropov at 10 instead of Alex Tanguay or Simon Gagne - oh wait, they're from Quebec, Cherry probably wouldn't count them.
Furthermore, the Leafs dressed two, TWO, European forwards last night. Alex Steen and Alexei Ponikarovsky (a 4th Rd pick by the way). And they dressed three Europeans of defense, Tomas Kaberle (a brilliant 8th Rd pick), Alexander Khavanov and Staffan Kronwall (looking to be a brilliant 9th Rd pick). Let it be said that the all-star Canadian Wade Belak was solidly in the line-up.