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Controversial Cherry praises Pens' Crosby

RALEIGH, N.C. — Wildly popular and controversial Canadian hockey analyst Don Cherry has changed his mind about Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

Early in Crosby's career, Cherry claimed Crosby dived and whined too much. He also ripped Crosby for what he termed a "hot-dog" move in a junior game (Crosby scooped the puck lacrosse-style, rested it on his blade and stuffed it into the net) and said it was "ridiculous" that then-Penguins coach Michel Therrien named Crosby an alternate captain in Crosby's second season.

"No kid should have as much to say as he's got to say," Cherry said then. "Yapping at the referees, doing the whole thing. Golden boy."

Cherry likes what he sees now, based on his comments Tuesday morning at the RBC Center, during the Penguins' morning skate.

"He blocks shots, takes the draws now and kills penalties," Cherry said. "All I said when everybody got on me, I said, 'Stop yelling at the referees, stop diving and throwing your head back.' What happens is the referees won't (give you calls)."

Cherry laughed and added, "He listened to me, just like (Alex) Ovechkin listened to me. I've been around a little bit. I know how the referees feel. They're only human. (Crosby's) a complete hockey player now. Before he was just an offensive DH, like in baseball."

Like millions of Canadians, Crosby grew up loving Cherry's act during the popular Coach's Corner segment on "Hockey Night in Canada." He was asked yesterday if Cherry's earlier jabs bothered him.

"A little," Crosby said. "It wasn't easy. I mean, I grew up watching him, and I didn't expect to be hearing things negative. At the same time, it's something I didn't read into a whole lot. I just tried to keep playing the same way and doing the same things.

"People are always going to have their opinions, whether they're good or bad. Either way, I don't try to change too much."

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