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Who to credit for Ovechkin rebound? Don Cherry says Mike Milbury

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

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From the file of "I can't believe he just said that," I present to you the latest from Don Cherry. The longtime commentator from Canada is citing -- get this -- Mike Milbury for the resurgence of the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin.

That's right. One gasbag is giving credit to another gasbag for the return of one the NHL's elite players and teams. Not that player, not his new coach, Adam Oates, who moved him to a new position and stuck to the plan, not any other stupid concept like a practice, a more balanced life or just simply an incredibly hot stretch.

Nope. Cherry credits Milbury, the man who has ripped Ovechkin time and time again in the past two years. Here, look what Cherry told The Fan 590 in Toronto.

"Well, here's the big thing," Cherry said. "Say what you want, if you look at his assists, [Oates] was a star himself. So a star knows what a star is going through.

"And I have to say, Mike Milbury I think deserves a lot of credit here," Cherry went on. "He's not getting it. He'd come on and he ripped Ovechkin -- he should be ashamed of himself, boom boom boom, and called him every name -- and that's when Ovechkin changed."

That was just the last time that Milbury ripped into Ovechkin, seen above. It was very harsh, and a lot of it was indeed warranted, but it wasn't the first time. Milbury has been hard on Ovechkin for a few years now; I don't think the message from Milbury finally got through to Ovechkin.

But what should we expect here? This is Cherry. The man is an icon and is still as entertaining a voice as there is in hockey. But his ideas aren't always the brightest in the world. Giving praise for a player's turnaround to an analyst falls in that category.

Cherry didn't give all the credit to Milbury, thank heavens. No, he also gave some credit to the fact that Ovechkin doesn't look like a neanderthal with long hair anymore.

"And if you people have noticed -- and I haven't said it on Hockey Night in Canada, I might yet -- have you noticed after a game, he just gives it a [fist] pump?" Cherry asked. "Have you noticed that? Have you noticed he's got nice short hair, he doesn't look like a wild man anymore? Adam Oates has got to him and said look, get off this celebrity thing. And what happened was, he was more of a celebrity than he was a hockey player. He forgot."

Oy.

I guess there is a shred of credit in there to Oates, but for getting Ovechkin to remember he's a hockey player, not transitioning him to the right wing and making him a force on the power play again, a particular specialty of Oates.

This shouldn't be too surprising; it is Cherry, after all. Still, it's unbelievable that somebody would think to praise Mike Milbury for Ovechkin scoring 22 goals in his past 21 games.

Of all the crazy things that Cherry has said -- and there are a lot of them -- this one is near the top. I think the last thing on Ovechkin's mind was proving Milbury wrong.

S/t to DC Sports Bog

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