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Don Cherry

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Don Cherry
Don cherry.jpg
Born February 5, 1934 (1934-02-05) (age 83)
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shoots Left
Played for Hershey Bears
Boston Bruins
Springfield Indians
Trois-Rivières Lions
Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers
Sudbury Wolves
Spokane Comets
Rochester Americans
Tulsa Oilers
Vancouver Canucks
Playing career 1954–1972

Don Cherry (born Donald Stewart Cherry on February 5, 1934) is a Canadian ice hockey commentator for CBC Television. He is a sports writer, as well as a retired professional hockey player and National Hockey League (NHL) coach.

He is the co-host of the "Coach's Corner" intermission segment (with Ron MacLean) on the long-running Canadian sports program "Hockey Night in Canada" and has also worked for ESPN in the United States as a commentator during the latter stages of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Nicknamed Grapes, Don is a Canadian icon known for his outspoken manner, flamboyant dress, and staunch Canadian nationalism.

He played one game with the Boston Bruins and later coached the team for five seasons after concluding a successful playing career in the American Hockey League.

He is also well known as an author, a syndicated radio commentator for the Sportsnet Radio Network, creator of the "Rock'em Sock'em Hockey" video series and a celebrity endorser.

Playing CareerEdit

Don played junior hockey with the Barrie Flyers and the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey Association. He won the Memorial Cup as a defenceman with Barrie in 1953.

Don dropped out of high school and in 1954, he signed with the American Hockey League's (AHL) Hershey Bears. He had a long playing career in professional minor hockey, and in 1955 played his only NHL game when the Boston Bruins called him up during the playoffs.

According to Don, a baseball injury suffered in the off season kept him from making the NHL, despite his almost 20 years playing in the minor leagues. He retired as a player in 1970, but came out of retirement 2 years later to play 19 final games with the Rochester Americans.

Don won the Calder Cup championship (AHL) four times—1960 with the Springfield Indians, and 1965, 1966, 1968 with Rochester. He also won the Lester Patrick Cup and the Western Hockey League Championship with the Vancouver Canucks in 1969.

Coaching CareerEdit

After the end of the 1968–69 season, Don's playing career was essentially over. He struggled for a time as a Cadillac salesman and a construction worker. He even worked as a painter, earning $2 per hour.

In the middle of the 1971–72 season, Don became the coach of the American Hockey League's Rochester Americans and won Coach of the Year. The following year, the title of General Manager was added.

In his third season behind the bench, he was voted the AHL's "Coach of the Year".

Boston BruinsEdit

After his three-year stint in Rochester, Don was promoted to the NHL as head coach of the Boston Bruins. The Bruins were coming off a successful run of two Stanley Cups and three first-place finishes, but would soon see the exit of superstars Bobby Orr] and Phil Esposito.

He quickly developed a reputation for being an eccentric, flamboyant coach who strongly encouraged physical play among his players. According to Don, he modeled the Bruins' playing style after that of his dog, Blue, a feisty bull terrier.

While the team had previously been known for Orr and Esposito who were highly skilled scorers, their impending departures had Don remake the team with enforcers and grinders which became known as the "lunch-pail gang" (or "lunch pail A.C.") and "the Big Bad Bruins".

Albeit for a brief slump until Esposito and Carol Vadnais was traded to the New York Rangers for Brad Park and Jean Ratelle as Esposito disagreed with Don's coaching style while Park would thrive under it, this approach of "balance over brilliance" rejuvenated the Bruins as they continued to be one of the NHL's best teams during the latter half of the 1970s, capturing the division title four straight seasons from 1975-76 through 1978-79.

In the 1977–78 season, Don coached the Bruins team to an NHL record of 11 players with 20 goals or more on a single team. He won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 1976.

The Bruins were able to defeat the rough Philadelphia Flyers twice in the playoffs under Cherry's tenure. The Bruins made the Stanley Cup finals twice, both times losing to their arch-rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in both 1977 and 1978.

In the 1979 semi-final playoff series against the Canadiens, Don's Bruins pushed the series to the limit but they were undone by a late penalty in the seventh game. Up by a goal with less than three minutes left in the seventh game, the Bruins were called for having too many men on the ice.

The Canadiens' Guy Lafleur scored the tying goal on the subsequent power play, and ultimately the Canadiens won the game in overtime. Montreal went on to easily defeat the New York Rangers for their fourth straight Cup title.

Don (who had an uneasy relationship with the Bruins General Manager Harry Sinden) was fired by the Bruins afterward.

Colorado RockiesEdit

Don went on to coach the Colorado Rockies the following season.

Under his tenure, the Rockies adopted the motto: "Come to the fights and watch a Rockies game break out!" and the slogan could be seen on billboards all over Denver in the 1979–80 season. His hiring as head coach immediately rejuvenated the ailing franchise's fortunes.

However, as he later admitted, Don's outspokenness and feuding with Rockies general manager Ray Miron did not endear him to management.

While Don did much to motivate the players, goaltending was still the team's weakness as Miron refused to replace Hardy Astrom (whom he dubbed the "The Swedish Sieve").

He recalled one game where his players had got ten shots on goal without scoring, but Åström then conceded a goal from the opponent's first shot and so was yanked from net.

Of course, Don didn't help things when, after watching defenseman Mike McEwen ignore him and refuse to come off during a game, he reached over the boards and manhandled McEwen to the bench.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs' Lanny McDonald was abruptly traded to Colorado, McDonald found himself at the centre of another power struggle between Don and Miron.

Don was sympathetic to the fact that McDonald's wife was less than two weeks away from giving birth (as he had not been present when his own wife Rose had given birth) and gave McDonald permission to leave the team on off-days to return to his wife in Toronto.

However, general manager Miron did not approve of McDonald's leave and this became another factor that led to Don's contract not being renewed after one season.

Don's NHL career ended on a positive note when they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0 in the final game of the season held at home.

Years later, while commentating during the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals between the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils (the Rockies franchise moved to New Jersey after 1982), Don recalled the experience of the Rockies' last game where he was wearing cowboy boots and after it ended, the Rockies players formed two lines with their hockey sticks raised to form an arch so he could depart the ice between them while acknowledging the cheers of the crowd.

OtherEdit

In 1983, Don was asked by businessman Bill Hunter, who attempted to purchase the St. Louis Blues and move them to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to coach his team in Saskatoon. However, the NHL's Board of Governors rejected the move and the Blues remained in St. Louis.

Internationally, Don was an assistant coach for Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup and was head coach for Canada's team at the 1981 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. He was also the part-owner and the former coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga IceDogs.

As the owner and general manager, Don gained notoriety by refusing to take part in the CHL import draft and by only playing North American born players. The IceDogs' first three seasons were difficult ones with the team winning a total of 16 games combined.

Don took over coaching duties in the fourth season. During his one season as head coach of the IceDogs, the team managed 11 victories (only a slight improvement) and failed to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

Don drew some criticism for his sudden decision to allow European born players onto the IceDogs line-up during the one season he coached the team.

Broadcasting CareerEdit

After the Colorado Rockies failed to qualify for the 1980 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Don was hired as a studio analyst for CBC's playoff coverage that spring, working alongside host Dave Hodge.

CBC hired him full-time in 1981 as a colour commentator, but he didn't last long in that role due to his tendency to openly cheer for one of the teams playing, especially the Boston Bruins or the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Instead, "Coach's Corner" was created, a segment that appeared in the first intermission on "Hockey Night in Canada" with Dave Hodge. In 1986, Hodge was replaced by Ron MacLean, with whom Don has been teamed ever since.

For several years, he also hosted his own half-hour interview show "Don's Grapevine" which began on Hamilton's CHCH-TV in the 1980s before moving to TSN. His loud, outspoken nature became notorious, and his shows are described as "game analysis, cultural commentary and playful parrying with host Ron MacLean."

Don also hosted a syndicated weekly television show called "Don Cherry's This Week in Hockey" during the 1987-88 NHL season.

It featured highlights from the previous week's NHL games. The highlight of each show was when Don awarded a Black and Decker cordless drill to the player who levied the "hit of the week" (called the "Drill of the Week" in order to tie into the cordless drill giveaway).

Don's commentary is usually peppered with catchphrases like "All you kids out there...," unrestrained affection for his favourite players (including Steve Yzerman and Kingston native Doug Gilmour, whom Don affectionately refers to as "Dougie" and once kissed on-air in a famous TV gag), and overall political incorrectness.

Another trademark is his bull terrier, Blue which was originally a gift from the Bruins players.

Don tends to frequently focus on a few pieces of advice that he feels strongly about. Virtually every week on "Coach's Corner," he spends time exhorting the evils of attempting to block a shot using one's hockey stick (arguing that it often causes deflections while impeding the goalie's view of the puck).

Two other perennial favourites are the dangers of touch icing (a rule he blamed for the premature end to Pat Peake's career) and the extremely sensitive rules about crease violation during the early 2000s (since relaxed).

Don is also critical of the two-minute penalty for firing the puck into the crowd from the defensive zone, introduced since the start of the 2005–06 NHL season.

Don also praises hockey players who show great toughness.

Examples of this include when during the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs, a Phoenix Coyotes winger crawled off the ice after enduring a bone-shattering slap shot from St. Louis Blues defenceman Al MacInnis so that another could take his place.

Usually at the end of the NHL season, Don's send off words in recent years have been about NHL prospects entering the NHL Entry Draft.

His position is that unless a player is guaranteed to be selected in the first or second rounds, they should not physically attend the draft, reasoning that some players could be disappointed if they are drafted later than expected, or worse, not at all.

In May of 2004, Don returned to the news amid rumours that CBC would terminate his contract for "Hockey Night in Canada." However, he re-signed with the network in July.

Branching out from his "Hockey Night in Canada" duties, Don began to release a series of videos called "Don Cherry's Rock'Em Sock'em Hockey" in 1989. The 15th anniversary video was released in 2003, with a 'Best Of' released in 2005.

For the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, NBC decided to feature Don in its intermission coverage, a rare appearance on American television. He was partnered with Bill Clement and Brett Hull and it did not conflict with his usual role on CBC as he appeared on NBC during the second intermission.

In May of 2008, ESPN announced that Don was joining Barry Melrose as a commentator for the remainder of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He provided pre-game analysis for the conference finals, pre- and post-game analysis for the Stanley Cup finals and appeared on ESPNews and ESPN Radio. ESPN also announced that he would donate his fees to the Humane Society.

Don has been criticized for comments targeting specific ethnicities (such as French Canadians & Europeans) and this has led to his broadcasts being put on a seven-second delay by the CBC.

Opinions on HockeyEdit

Don Cherry is a strong advocate of a tough "Canadian" type of hockey which emphasizes physical play and a "code" of conduct among the players.

He believes that fighting is an integral part of the game as it enforces respect between teams and players, as well as being popular with some members of the public.

He has long been a champion of hardworking "journeyman" players, whom he identifies with from his own time spent playing in the minor leagues.

His favourite player of all time is Bobby Orr who he says is the greatest player of all time. Other favourites include Doug Gilmour, Vincent Lecavalier and Cam Neely.

Don has criticized many players for what he considers dishonourable conduct, but perhaps none more than Ulf Samuelsson and Matt Cooke, whom he considered to be exceptionally dirty players responsible for many severe injuries.

He has strongly criticized the direction taken by the NHL in recent years, reducing fighting in favour of speed, and skill. Specific rules that he criticizes include touch-up icing and the instigator rule.

He also frequently criticizes players for elaborate celebrations after goals.

In 2003, Don made headlines by criticizing then heavily publicized junior prospect Sidney Crosby for being a "hot dog" because of the way he slid around on his knees after scoring. He also disapproved of a tricky behind-the-net goal the young star pulled off when a game was already out of reach for the team he scored on.

He caused some controversy in his criticism of Alexander Ovechkin's celebration after he scored his 50th goal in 2009.

Don is a staunch supporter of women's hockey and sledge hockey.

In 1997, Canada's Women's Olympic Hockey Team paid a tribute to the late Rose Cherry.

Canadian Hockey chairman Bob MacKinnon thanked him stating, "The growing popularity of the women's game in our country owes a great deal to Don and Rose Cherry... Don has been a strong supporter of the female game since the early 1980s and continues to speak out in favour of women's hockey. It's a pleasure for me, as chairman of Canadian Hockey, to be a part of this tribute to Rose Cherry, who was a keen supporter of female hockey herself."

Political views and ControversyEdit

Over his career on television, Don has generated significant controversy about both hockey and politics.

In 1989, he referred to Finnish-born Winnipeg Jets Assistant Coach Alpo Suhonen as "some kind of dog food", triggering the threat of a lawsuit from Jets owner Barry Shenkarow.

In 2003, Don made comments on his CBC segment in support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

On March 22, 2003, during "Coach's Corner", a heated debate over the U.S.-led war with Iraq took place. Don criticized Montreal fans for booing the American national anthem before a game earlier in the week. The conversation then turned to the war when Ron MacLean said "everybody wants to know what you think".

He berated MacLean about being neutral on the war and strongly criticized the Canadian government for failing to support the U.S. in the war.

Don appeared on the American radio program "The Jim Rome Show" the following week, stating, "You have to realize the CBC is government owned [...] You have to say the government was against [the invasion of Iraq] and I'm for it and I'm on a government program. I really thought this could be the end."

In January of 2004, on the subject of visors, Don claimed on Coach's Corner that visor users have less respect for player safety and attempted to illustrate his claim by saying, "Most of the guys that wear them are Europeans and French guys".

This statement triggered an investigation by the federal Official Languages Commissioner, and protests by French-Canadians. CBC consequently imposed a seven-second delay on Hockey Night in Canada.

Later on, a study was published that proved Don to be half-right: while 50% of Europeans and 40% of French-Canadians wore visors, compared to 22% of North Americans born outside of Quebec, players who wear visors committed proportionately fewer high-sticking penalties than players who do not.

He returned to the "Coach's Corner" for the 2005–06 NHL season without the seven-second delay.

After appearing in the Canadian House of Commons on November 7, 2006, Don formally stated his support for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whom he called "a grinder and a mucker" by saying, "I give a thumbs up to Stephen Harper for sure. He supports the troops and I support the troops."

On December 7, 2010, Don attended the inaugural meeting of Toronto City Council, where he placed the chain of office around incoming Mayor Rob Ford's neck. He was asked to say a few remarks and he opened by stating, “I’m wearing pink for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything, I thought I’d get it in.

He then went on to state that he had "been ripped to shreds by the left-wing pinko newspapers out there" and ended saying "And that's why I say he's gonna be the greatest mayor this city has ever, ever seen, as far as I'm concerned! And put that in your pipe, you left-wing kooks."

Left-leaning councillors were critical of Don's speech and the following day some of them wore pink clothing in protest, including Joe Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul's West) and Ana Bailão (Ward 18, Davenport), who wore pink scarves while Janet Davis (Ward 31, Beaches-East York) wore a pink suit jacket.

Mihevc said, "We all love Don Cherry and his comments and forcefulness in hockey games, but this is council. It’s a political arena where we make it a habit to reach out, talk to others and achieve consensus. To have that kind of, frankly, belligerence and pushing people aside, to start out this way I think is really unfortunate."

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong defended Don though he stated that it was "A little over the top" and that "You take it for what it is and you shrug it off and move forward." Cherry defended his comments by stating “Well, what can I tell you? Don’t invite me. You don’t invite a pit bull. If you want a pit bull, you get a pit bull.”

Don is a strong supporter of the Canadian Forces, police officers and veterans.

Acting CareerEdit

As part of his fame, Don has also branched out into some acting roles. He was cast as Jake Nelson in the television series "Power Play." Nelson was the coach of the Philadelphia team playing against the Hamilton Steelheads in the playoffs during the first season.

Also, he and Ron MacLean provided voices for themselves in the animated television series "Zeroman" which starred Leslie Nielsen.

Don also appeared on an episode of Goosebumps called "Don't Go to Sleep!" where he plays a hockey coach. His voice was also used in Disney's animated feature "The Wild" as a penguin curling broadcaster.

Don also appeared alongside the Trailer Park Boys in The Tragically Hip's music video "The Darkest One". His voice was also used in the Mickey Mouse episode "Bad Ear Day" as an ice hockey game announcer.

In 2008, Don also appeared on an episode of the widely-popular home improvement show "Holmes on Homes".

While not appearing scripted, he apparently lived in the neighbourhood and he is shown speaking with Mike Holmes about the construction business and the ongoing project at his brother-in-law's house.

Business and Charitable WorkEdit

In 1985, the first of a chain of franchised sports bars/restaurants bearing Don's name was opened in Hamilton.

He started as a partner in the operation and has more recently licensed his name to the chain without holding a significant ownership stake in the company.

"Don Cherry's Sports Grill" has locations in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Don (who is an advocate of options for pet owners to keep their pets healthy) has also partnered with companion animal organisation Pethealth Inc. to offer Canadians the hockey-inspired CherryBlue Pet Insurance program. He is pictured on cherryblue.ca with his popular bull terrier Blue, for whom the program is named.

Don has lent his considerable persona to several charitable causes (most significantly, organ donation awareness).

Other AccoladesEdit

In 1992, Don lent his voice to the charity song "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Techno" for Canadian Techno group BKS.

On November 14, 2005, he was granted honorary membership of the Police Association of Ontario. Once an aspiring police officer, he has been a longtime supporter of the police services. In his own words, "This is the best thing I've ever had."

In June of 2007, Don was made a Dominion Command Honorary Life Member of the Royal Canadian Legion in recognition of "his longstanding and unswerving support of ... Canadians in uniform".

In February of 2008, he was awarded the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service for his "unwavering support to men and women of the Canadian Forces, honouring fallen soldiers on his CBC broadcast during 'Coach's Corner' a segment of Hockey Night in Canada".

Career StatisticsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1951–52 Windsor Spitfires OHA 18 0 3 3 30
1951–52 Barrie Flyers OHA 18 2 3 5 30
1952–53 Barrie Flyers OHA 56 5 3 8 66 25 4 3 7 46
1953–54 Barrie Flyers OHA 55 10 14 24 61
1954–55 Hershey Bears AHL 63 7 13 20 125
1954–55 Boston Bruins NHL 1 0 0 0 0
1955–56 Hershey Bears AHL 58 3 22 25 102
1956–57 Hershey Bears AHL 64 5 20 25 197 7 2 0 2 27
1957–58 Springfield Indians AHL 65 9 17 26 83 13 1 1 2 10
1958–59 Springfield Indians AHL 70 6 22 28 118
1959–60 Springfield Indians AHL 46 2 11 13 45 1 0 0 0 2
1959–60 Trois-Rivières Lions EPHL 23 3 4 7 12 7 0 1 1 2
1960–61 Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers EPHL 70 13 26 39 78 7 0 3 3 23
1961–62 Sudbury Wolves EPHL 55 9 20 29 62 5 3 2 5 10
1961–62 Springfield Indians AHL 11 1 3 4 10
1962–63 Spokane Comets WHL 68 9 13 22 68
1963–64 Rochester Americans AHL 70 5 11 16 106 2 0 0 0 4
1964–65 Rochester Americans AHL 62 4 8 12 56 10 0 1 1 34
1965–66 Tulsa Oilers CPHL 17 1 2 3 28
1965–66 Rochester Americans AHL 56 5 11 16 61 12 2 5 7 14
1966–67 Rochester Americans AHL 72 6 24 30 61 13 1 2 3 16
1967–68 Rochester Americans AHL 68 6 15 21 74 11 1 1 2 2
1968–69 Rochester Americans AHL 43 7 11 18 20
1968–69 Vancouver Canucks WHL 33 0 6 6 29 8 2 2 4 6
1971–72 Rochester Americans AHL 19 1 4 5 8
NHL totals 1 0 0 0 0
AHL totals 767 67 192 259 1,066 69 7 10 17 109
EPHL totals 148 25 50 75 152 19 3 6 9 35
WHL totals 101 9 19 28 97 8 2 2 4 6

Coaching StatisticsEdit

NHLEdit
Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish W L Win % Result
BOS1974–75 80402614942nd in Adams12.333Lost in Preliminary Round
BOS1975–76 804815171131st in Adams57.417Lost in Semifinals
BOS1976–77 80492381061st in Adams86.571Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
BOS1977–78 805118111131st in Adams105.667Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
BOS1978–79 804323141001st in Adams74.636Lost in Semifinals
BOS total 400231
57.75%
105
26.25%
64
16%
5263124.5645 playoff appearances
COL1979–80 80194813516th in SmytheDid Not Qualify
COL total 8019
23.75%
48
60%
13
16.25%
51---No playoff appearances
Total 480250
52.08%
153
31.86%
77
16.04%
5773124.5645 playoff appearances
Minor leaguesEdit
AHL
Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish W L Win % Result
Rochester Americans1971–72 3916 18 5 37 Did Not Qualify
Rochester Americans1972–73 76 33 31 12 783rd, East 24 .333Lost in first round
Rochester Americans1973–74 76 42 21 13 97 1st, North 2 4 .333Lost in first round
Rochester Americans total 191 91 7030 212 48 .3332 playoff appearances

Personal LifeEdit

Don was born in Kingston, Ontario (he later moving to Belleville, Ontario to attend Centennial Secondary School) to Delmar "Del" and Maude Cherry.

His paternal grandfather, John T. "Jack" Cherry, was an original member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a Great Lakes ship captain.

His maternal grandfather, Richard Palamountain, was a British orphan of Cornish parentage who was emigrated to Canada as one of the Home Children. He was also a veteran of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Don's father Del was an amateur athlete and worked as an electrician with the Canadian Steamship Lines.

On the March 15, 2008 edition of "Coach's Corner", Don wore the green and gold colours of County Kerry, Ireland. In his segment following the game, he claimed ancestry from that region.

His younger brother, Dick Cherry played hockey at various levels, including two seasons in the National Hockey League with the Philadelphia Flyers.

In his first year with the Bears, Don met his future wife Rosemarie "Rose" Cherry (née Madelyn Martini) (born in 1935 in Hershey, Pennsylvania).

Rose was hugely influential in Don's life—because of Don's minor-league hockey lifestyle, they moved 53 times; they rarely had decent housing or furnishings and Don was often away playing during major events, such as the birth of their daughter and first child, Cindy Cherry.

Six years after Cindy's birth, Rose gave birth to son Tim Cherry. When Tim needed a kidney transplant when he was 13 years old, Cindy donated one of hers. The two currently live across the street from each other, around the corner from their father in Mississauga.

On June 1, 1997, Rose died of liver cancer and in honour of her perseverance, Don created "Rose Cherry's Home for Kids." Her name has motivated him to always wear a rose on his lapel.

Don contributed in developing "Rose Cherry's Home for Kids" which has since been renamed to "The Darling Home for Kids" in Milton, Ontario. The Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario is located on "Rose Cherry Place," a street named for his late wife.

In 1999, Don married his second wife, Luba.

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