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Don Cherry ; Listen to your Grandfather !

Everyone has a Grandfather they adore. However – they would like to keep him in the attic when visitors arrive for a get together.  Don Cherry is that man and the CBC network are the relatives that cannot hide him. Why should they ?

Listen to what he is really saying ...

Recently Cherry has caused an uproar with his ill – timed comments of the fighters in hockey and their roles in society.On and off the ice. Ill – timed because three of the league’s fighters passed away during the summer under unusual circumstances.

“The ones that I am really disgusted with … 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’re fighting.’ You turncoats. You hypocrites,” Cherry said.

“If there’s one thing I’m not it’s a hypocrite. You guys were fighters, and now you don’t want guys to make the same living you did.”

First and most important – Cherry”s largest mistake was pointing the finger at the wrong people. Chris Nilan was quoted as saying his problems off the ice had nothing to do with his role as a fighter in the NHL. Stu Grimson – a former enforcer with the Chicago Blackhawks , also denies saying anything along the lines of which Cherry has accused him of.

“I challenge Don to point to the news article – or any other kind of journalism – where that comment is attributed to me,” continued Grimson. “Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re going to say things like that on national television, show me the article where Chris (Nilan) or I said something like that. And if you can’t prove that, let’s hear an apology from Don…because that’s pretty strong language, pretty offensive language. I’m awfully offended.”

Doing his job ?

Like Grimson and Nilan – Cherry”s job on Coaches Corner is to rile his opponents . Ruffle the feathers of his fans and detractors alike. Keep “em coming back for more.If Cherry is as disliked as much as Grimson and especially Jim Thomson believe – it is likely that the CBC would have dispatched the coach to the farm team years ago when Cherry provoked the wrath of all the French – Quebecers. They were incensed to learn that their NHL home boys were cowards when Cherry remarked  that the Francophones in the league hid behind their visors and were essentially ” pussies ‘ by doing so.

The Swedes win the Cup !

What about the Europeans – especially the Swedes ,harassed by the old coach for being ladylike as they did cartwheels to avoid the corners and in turn – the thunderous body-checks by hulking defencemen. Did they take their ” meatballs ” and go home ? Did they call for Cherry”s resignation? Were the CBC ‘s phone lines lit up for the same amount of time it took former Capital and Canadien Rick Green to score a goal ? The answers are no – yes and yes. Don Cherry does his job with patriotism and passion . He has done so for many years now. He is a throwback to the days when men were men , hockey was hockey and Russian women were also men. The more things change – the more things do not stay the same. Especially in Russia’ s women’s’ tennis program and Gary Bettman”s shoot – out world.

There was a  point that Don Cherry was attempting to make. His age and passion intervened. I believe the wrinkled instructor was irate for the simple fact there are many guilty people involved in the game on a professional level. Coaches , owners and G. M ” s . Mothers and fathers. Zamboni drivers , popcorn vendors , scalpers and souvenir shop owners. Let”s not forget the players themselves ;  John Ferguson , Gordie Howe , Maurice Richard and Ted Lindsay. Bob Probert , John Kordic , Wade Belak and Chris Nilan. Everyone of these players had – at one time , a choice to make. Most of the tough guys in hockey would not have a job in the NHL if they chose not to fight. No job equals  no millions of dollars. No sports cars. No women throwing themselves at the players as if they were Mick Jagger. There lies the problem in the greatest game on ice. There lies the problem for all professional sports where big bucks make winners of cheaters.

Duty comes first

Players get a taste of the ” rock star life ” in the minors. One step removed from the ” show”. How does one tell an eighteen year the right thing to do is to give up the game they love and become a sales rep or a blue-collar guy. In doing so –  bypassing all the riches and gratuities that go along with being a professional hockey player.  Many times a boy comes from a family where the dad was a blue-collar guy himself. It is the father and the mom that may turn a cheek from the right thing. They may tell their son that being an enforcer for a few years will feed the pockets of not only their offspring yet the family itself. Does a good son fulfill his duty or does he do the right thing ? Duty overcomes the right thing. Ask any war veteran or the family of a dead soldier if they or their relative made the wrong decision. Unlike war – hockey has millions fewer victims that are buried in a grave somewhere.

Following a summer of tragedy in hockey and on the ‘ coattails ‘ of too many blows to the head , everyone involved in the game of hockey have suddenly developed a conscience. Publicly at least.  ” No more fighting ” they cry from the armchairs of Dallas through Edmonton. ” Hockey is too violent ! ” says a Mom as she corrals her eight year old son to her side in an interview in suburban Pheonix. Guess what ? The season has started. The two biggest ovations at a hockey game remain the same.Ear rupturing body-checks and two men squaring off to beat the snot out of one another.

The Rocket " s red glare ...

It is part of hockey. Period.

Mothers and  fathers , G.M ‘s , coaches , owners , peanut vendors , Zamboni drivers and souvenir shop owners know it. They all benefit from it .

Including Stu Grimson , Jim Thomson and Chris Nilan to this day.

Is it any wonder Grandpa  is upset … ?


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