Skip to main content

Don Cherry can't seem to keep any coaches in his corner.

The outspoken Hockey Night In Canada commentator and lead owner of the Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga IceDogs learned yesterday that coach Geoff Ward had quit four hours before the IceDogs were to play the Guelph Storm.

Cherry's brother Dick and nephew Steve took over the team, making the tandem Mississauga's fourth coach in the club's 1½-year history.

"I've never been involved with a franchise that has had so much bad things happen," said Cherry, former National Hockey League coach of the year with the Boston Bruins.

"There's no doubt we're snake-bit. All those years in Boston I couldn't do anything wrong. I'm making up for it now."

Ward lasted only nine games, losing them all. Mississauga had lost 20 in a row before setting a team record in goals last night in an 8-4 win over the Storm. The second-year team is 6-45-1-1.

Ward replaced Jim Hulton in January, who had replaced the club's first coach, Peter Sturgeon, in November, 1998. The IceDogs were 4-61-3 last season.

Ward previously guided the Storm and Kitchener Rangers to winning seasons. He left the Storm to coach in the East Coast Hockey League this season, but was fired over the Christmas break.

Ward didn't want to say why he was quitting the IceDogs.

"Out of respect for the hockey team I'd like to give them a chance to do what they have to do without being under a spyglass," he said when reached by phone at home.

Cherry wondered whether Ward was embarrassed to face his old team with key veterans Jason Spezza, captain Scott Page and Omar Ennaffatti out of the lineup.

He denied rumours that he had created friction with his coaches by interfering with the day-to-day operation of the team.

"I swear to you I haven't said a word to the guy," Cherry said of Ward. "I left them alone."

Cherry, who refuses to allow Europeans to play on his team, said he will quickly seek an experienced coach to replace Ward.

Dick Cherry, a former NHL scout, is the IceDogs' director of hockey operations, while his son Steve is the assistant coach.

With the two Cherrys behind the bench last night, Lou Dickenson scored a team-record four goals. Chad Wiseman, Julian Smith, Brian McGrattan and Jason Goldenberg also scored.

Matt House, Lindsay Plunkett, Joe Gerbe and Brent Kelly replied for Guelph, who were outshot 45-34.

Interact with The Globe