Update: With the recent verbal battle that is taking place over the Steigerwald/Ovechkin article, I now feel that it is even more critical to be fair and clear when discussing someone with whom you disagree, or find personally irritating. As our blood runs very high when discussing this great sport, we must nonetheless be sure we are on firm ground when we decide to go on the attack. I pulled no punches in this post on Don Cherry, and as result, I was prompted to take another look to see if any clarifying, apologizing, or re-affirming was in order. So…here goes it.
1. I accused Cherry of “spewing thinly veiled bigotry”. When going through the quotes and footage available to me, in addition to pulling things from my imperfect memory bank (as memory banks are), I’m going to stand by this claim. To find Cherry praising a Russian for a play that would win a North American praise, is very rare. The opposite situation, is predictable. Cherry does seem to have softened a bit in this matter, but I have a long memory. And there’s more to it than that. Take Cherry’s refusal to acknowledge the gritty play of Pavel Datsyuk in the 2008 SCF, when Pavel came to the defense of his teammate who was felled by a Penguins player (I believe it was Malone). Cherry’s response was to mimic a limp-wristed weakling waving his hands about. Since this kind of thing is consistently aimed at Russians, even when they do something one would imagine would be impressive to Cherry, I again have to conclude that the guy has an intolerance towards them. The rant Cherry goes on during the first intermission of a 1996 match-up during the World Cup Of Hockey between Canada and Russia is on Youtube. Decide for yourself if this supports my thesis. Also, Ron Maclean during a HNIC broadcast asked Cherry if he was impressed by a gutsy effort by Alexei Ponikarovsky that resulted in a goal for the Maple Leafs. As far as I can recall, Cherry simply shrugged this off.
2. I compared Cherry to a clown, specifically with regards to his outfits. His outfits are clownish. Pink jackets? Cmon.
3. I made fun of Cherry for balding. Obviously not a nice thing to say, but I think we can deal with a cheap shot of this kind as a response to Cherry’s remarks. Was that classless of me to say? Yeah. I was mad at the man, and had a right to be. I see this as a no biggie.
4. I said: “I’ve always believed Cherry to be a hate-monger of the lowest order”. Since I do think Cherry hates Russians, and has done all except say exactly that, I’ll have to stand by this as well. On the other hand, he is not, “of the lowest order”….and not “the Jerry Falwell” of hockey. These were incendiary remarks I made in a heated moment. While I could make some flimsy comparisons, that would be unfair and missing the point. I retract them and apologize. Temper definitely got the better of me there.
5. This could get tedious for a reader very easily. I will simply conclude that there are things in my Cherry post that I will stand by, and things I won’t. Becoming a great writer with courage and integrity is a goal of mine. At this point in my quest, I must embrace even more the value of measuredness and fair play. I am simply too old to shoot my mouth off with abandon. When it comes down to it, I wrote something while angered. A human thing to do, but still must be combated when possible. In a day and age where what you say can get you in some hot water, I also have to adopt steadiness as a safeguard. But this is not my primary goal. I want to have both lucid and heated discussions and debates with the finest hockey men and women, and earn their respect and trust. Hotheads, myself being among their number, will have a difficult time doing this. I often quote movies in my blogs. “You should never make an important decision when you are upset”. This comes from “Clear and Present Danger”. Fine words to live by. So, do I like Don Cherry? No. Was I overly harsh in my post? At points, yes. I’m going to write about hockey for the rest of my life. I’d like it very much for those of you who have listened thus far to continue to do so. The original post is below. I have not been asked to produce this update, or to edit my blog.
The man who should have been referred to as “gripes” instead of “grapes” all these years, finally did the unthinkable, and apologized for the disgusting accusations that he fired at former NHL tough guys Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson. In case you missed what this classless curmudgeon said, here is a snippet:
“The ones that I am really disgusted with, and I hate to say this when the kids are listening . . . are the bunch of pukes that fought before: Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson. (They say) ‘Oh, the reason that they’re drinking, (taking) drugs and alcoholics is because they fight.’ You turncoats. You hypocrites,”.
This is a man, who has made a living by spewing thinly veiled bigotry and poison towards those that do not agree with, or irritate him. And while engaging in his campaign of filth, he has been wearing everything a slightly more wealthy clown would; save for the red nose, painted face, and wig (which the balding malcontent could use).
I’ve always believed that Cherry was a hate-monger of the lowest order. He is the Jerry Falwell of hockey. Finally, his decades of verbally vomiting on television have caught up with him. And how is this for some irony: A man who prides himself as being the champion of “tough guys”, is a such a tough guy himself, that he apologizes when threatened with a law suit. So brave, so brave.
Cherry long ago reached the status of an indefensible reactionary, in my opinion. If there are those still in the hockey world who can defend this shameless defamer, then they are more loyal to a talking head than our sport.
Here are some long held SUSPICIONS of mine about Cherry’s possible inner views: If a player was not born and/or raised in Canada, he is ineligible to play in the NHL. Helmets would be forbidden. A player who attempts something on the ice that is reminiscent of anything a Russian player has ever attempted, is penalized or suspended. Anyone who does not agree that Bobby Orr is the greatest player of all time, has no business discussing hockey.
There are a number of reasons for a person to unendingly attack and insult a group of people. In Cherry’s case, I believe his eternal assault against players from across the pond comes from a deep insecurity, feelings of envy, and simple minded fear. If ignorance is bliss, then Cherry must be the happiest man in the world.
Cherry’s greatest sin, is his hatred of hockey’s greatest strength: It is uniquely an international sport. As my favorite player Pavel Datsyuk answers the language barrier question, being that his English is weak: “It doesn’t matter. We speak hockey.”
I’ve never expected Cherry to just shut up and listen to another person, but if there ever was an appropriate time for him to do so, it is now.
As a youngster, I watched Cherry’s “Rock em’, Sock em’” videos, so I could marvel at the goals that his greatest enemies, European players, were capable of scoring. I would bet anything, that Cherry was induced into adding this footage, with great whining and protest.
So now, the man who seems to have been born old, has put his tail between his legs and surrendered. High time and wear white, I say.
I’m aware of Cherry’s philanthropic work, and I applaud him for it. However, that does not require me to give him a pass and ignore his affinity for repugnant remarks.
I believe in freedom of expression, and Cherry certainly has the right to be obnoxious. By the same token, I have the right to say: “Shut up, Don. If you’re so concerned about what “the kids” hear, then quit with the stupidity.”