In the new age of sports media, if you’re a superstar who has not won a championship or somewhat improved your stats from the year before, you get branded an overpaid heel and get flogged furiously by big-name network TV analysts for not trying hard enough or being too dim to adjust your game. It’s hard to recall now, but there was once a time when Ilya Bryzgalov’s fascination with space was just a personality quirk from an elite goaltender.

But if you’re Alex Ovechkin, a man whose every breath is compared to Canada’s favorite son, Sidney Crosby, a successful position change, an attitude adjustment, and some new hardware still may not guarantee positive reviews from the media.

Let’s take everybody’s favorite oddly dressed, bigoted uncle, Don Cherry, who gave an interview to Sovetsky Sport’s Leonid Varshavsky before game five of the Stanley Cup Finals. While predicting Ovechkin will be even better next season, Cherry still managed to get a couple digs in on Ovi for “taking all the criticism from the press too close to his heart.” How dare he. Also, Cherry has no idea who Maria Kirilenko is.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

Let’s talk about Ovechkin. The start of the season didn’t go well for him. But then he improved greatly. Why?
Here is what happened with Ovechkin. He was taking all the criticism from the press too close to his heart. I was telling him on my show: “Ovi, the media is either at your feet, or stepping on your throat.”

It was hard for him in the beginning of the season. But coach Adam Oates supported him. He knows how difficult it can be for the stars, he had to go through that himself. In my opinion, it was Adam who helped Ovi. He turned him around.

Could it be Maria Kirilenko who helped him?
Who is that?

A great tennis player and his muse. Maybe they will get married soon. Sasha has settled down…
His game has changed, but not because of that. Ovi no longer runs around aimlessly, trying to kill someone. I told him that he needs to change his style. Everybody knew what he was going to do, and could easily read his next step. Now everything is different. Ovechkin’s new season will be much better.

Cherry found time in the interview to defend his recent comments about former Hart- and Conn Smythe-winner Evgeni Malkin, whom he called a “talented dog” and a “loser.” This time, Cherry suggested Ovechkin as an example Malkin should model himself after, which is odd.

Everyone remembers what you said about Malkin. Many people didn’t like it.
I said what I said. Geno plays when he wants to play. And that’s true. When he’s on, he’s the best Russian player I’ve ever seen. Even better than Ovechkin. You can’t take puck away from Malkin. But you’ve got to give your all. You’ve gotta play hard even when you don’t want to. Ovechkin gives it everything he’s got in every game. I don’t like when players don’t give it their best. Though everyone knows your potential, Geno.

Additional reporting by Fedor Fedin.

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  • http://twitter.com/kat326 Rachel Cohen

    Cherry’s suit in that photo makes him look like a wrapped Christmas present.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I hope the tags are still on and somebody kept the receipt.

  • Chelsea Winot

    I got so distracted by that suit I forgot why I clicked the link on facebook haha

  • brittany cummings

    does he make his own suits, I’m not believing any department store sells those.

  • Peter

    If he is running around trying to kill someone, then he is not aimless. His aim is to kill someone. Don cherry confuses me.

  • Over_head

    Someone on twitter called him the “King of Candyland”, I guess it fits pretty well in that suit. It is amazing how quickly Mr. Cherry attempts to take credit for the “improvement” in any player. “I told Ovi this”, “I told him that”…..only to then say Ovi listens to the press too much. The guy is entertaining, I will give him that much.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I rarely disagree with Cherry, but c’mon he didn’t go around trying to kill people. He’s never been a goon, he just sometimes gets a fire under his ass and hits. Which is what North American hockey is all aboot.

  • Celticus Picti

    FB reiterate – ‘Raisin’ has never even been a ‘has been’, still just a wannabe – no change except now he is flamboyant, audacious and very desperate to cling onto his career, give it a couple o more years and he’ll be doing politics, or porn!

  • cobra617

    WTF???? Cherry doesn’t like Europeans. Oh wait, he is crediting a Canadian for Ovechkin’s success.
    Well Don, he still kind of sort of does this. Watch what happens when someone catches OV with a good hit. This is not often but happens sometimes. (The next line is best read with a Russian accent) Watch as Russian Bull then looks to destroy you.

  • cobra617

    And this is why I never understood Cherry’s dislike for OV and his love for Crosby. Most true fans know of Cherry and his disdain of Europeans (or any non Canadian hockey player for that matter). Yet OV actually plays more “Canadian” than Crosby. Sid shies away from physical play, OV is a hitting machine. I am not bashing Sid (who I don’t care for) for avoiding the rough stuff. He is a superstar, he doesn’t need to do that. I wish OV would take it down a notch, (though his destruction of Jagr at the Olympics is a classic) because I want to guy’s body to last for another 15 years.

  • johnnymorte

    Does this guy do parties? I’m lookin’ for someone to do some balloon animals.

  • Fedor

    I agree. As I said once, Crosby is the most classical old-school Soviet player in the NHL.

  • cobra617

    Exactly. Again, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Crosby’s style of play. As much as I don’t like him he is an excellent player (though as a Caps fan, I am biased towards OV)
    This is more geared towards Cherry and his bigotted view of hockey where Canadians and their physical style of play rules and everyone else is a loser. You cannot find a more physical player than OV without veering into the area of goons.

  • Rhino40

    This should answer your question, courtesy of Canada’s version of the Smothers Brothers: “Bowser & Blue”…
    http://bowserandblue.com/you-tube-play.php?id=88986

  • ChuchutrainLA

    can’t F with that logic! #bravo

  • Matt Root

    A Canadian Skip Bayless

  • ranndino

    Can we get a refund?

  • ranndino

    The man is only entertaining from the standpoint of being a clownshow. Never fails to obnoxiously say “I told you so” about everything under the sun even when he actually said the opposite.

    If this guy was as racist towards black players as he is towards Europeans, and Russians in particular, he’d be off the air a long time ago. Regardless of the ratings.

  • ranndino

    Cherry just hates Russians, plain and simple. If Ovechkin were a good Canadian boy from Saskatoon named Alex Sheepskin he’d be his biggest fan.

  • ranndino

    Oh god, please not porn!