Warren Foegele was the hitter and Dougie Hamilton the pitcher. There was a big swing, a deep fly, Foegele circling the bases and being mobbed at home plate after his walkoff home run.
And then Don Cherry going off.
Foegele is from Markham, Ontario, raised on Canadian hockey and steeped in hockey tradition. The last thing the Carolina Hurricanes forward expected was having Cherry, a Canadian hockey icon, blasting him and his teammates on Hockey Night in Canada for a quick baseball impersonation Friday after the Canes beat the Edmonton Oilers at PNC Arena.
But Saturday, Foegele’s phone began to heat up. “Did you hear what Don Cherry said ...?”
“It was, ‘He’s calling you guys a bunch of jerks’ and your celebration really ticked him off,’” Foegele said Wednesday. “I was like, ‘Oh.’”
Cherry, on his “Coach’s Corner” segment, loudly decried the Canes’ postgame revelry as unprofessional and unbefitting the National Hockey League. His “bunch of jerks” line gained instant attention and traction throughout the NHL.
Foegele said the Canes’ rookies were told a few weeks ago that each needed to come up with an idea for a home-ice celebration. He touched base with Hamilton, so to speak, saying he was told before the game by team captain Justin Williams that should the Canes win, “You guys are doing your act.”
Batting lefthanded, his stick as the bat, Foegele first eyed Hamilton, then gave it a rip. He even flipped the stick after the swing.
“The Jose Bautista bat flip,” he said, smiling.
Foegele’s teammates watched from the bench -- or dugout. As he circled the imaginary bases, they rushed out and were waiting, wildly spraying him with water as he hopped on “home plate.”
The fans enjoyed it. Foegele enjoyed it. Cherry did not.
“Everyone has their own opinion,” Foegele said. “We’re just focused on what we’re doing here. Our fans enjoy it and I think that’s what matters most.”
A lot of Canes fans lined up before Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers to buy the new T-shirts with “Bunch of Jerks” on it.
“The shirts look great,” Foegele said. “I’ve had a lot of people asking if I could go buy one for them.”
“I’ve got one,” he said. “I’ll definitely be wearing it in the summer, too.”
One proud Jerk.