Cherry’s bomb backfires


The wake for a deceased friend who I played hockey with for years kept me from watching the Canadiens season opener Thursday night. But it seems that the most noteworthy event of the evening — aside from the obligatory annual injury to a Habs defenceman in Toronto and the subpar performance by the visitors — may have been Don Cherry’s segment after the first period.

For those who of you who somehow missed it, here it is…

…and while one is tempted to say this six and a half minutes of offensiveness, misrepresentation and ignorance is nothing new, and we’ve all seen this movie before, that would be inaccurate. This is, as The Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggen told CBC News, “a new low.”

What this edition of Coach’s Corner shows is a man whose core values about hockey — his beliefs and those of the people he represents — are threatened, a man who feels backed into a corner as a new era dawns in the sport.

It’s an era in which ownership, management and players are moving, somewhat unsteadily, toward a safer game, a less reckless game. He and those for whom he speaks are all for the recklessness, regardless of what we now know about the consequences. So what if the consequences are serious? Why worry about consequences?

It’s strange in one way that Cherry would be on that end of this discussion, considering his long-standing support for no-touch icing, which he favors because of the danger it poses to players. By championing no-touch icing, he has long portrayed himself as pro-safety. But his concern for safety pretty much ends there.

There’s no real reasoning going on in this segment. Instead, we get madness. And he is mad, mad that the type of hockey he advocates (and, let’s not forget, profits from handsomely) is, as he sees it, facing extinction.

You want misrepresentation? How about his cherry picking (pun intended) two mis-timed hits by Jay Rosehill and P.K Subban as typical of what the NHL is all about now? He feels sorry for those paying big money for to watch that, he adds.

Yes, NHLers are cautious about making certain sorts of hits these days — and they should be. But they’re not purposely missing checks here, as Cherry says. They are trying to adjust, to figure out on the fly how to time a bodycheck in this increasingly faster league without crossing the line, how to separate players from the puck without potentially injuring them and, in the process, risking the type of severe suspension the league has been handing out.

“I just really do believe there’s going to be a huge learning curve for a lot of these guys,” Bob McKenzie said over TSN 990 (audio) on “The Morning Show” this past Wednesday. “And there will be a lot of suspensions this year, and that we are going to see something similar to the obstruction crackdown that we had coming out of the 2004 lockout — and there was a parade to the penalty box. And everybody went nuts and said, ‘Nobody’s going to watch this.’ And I think you’re already starting to see the same backlash.”

Yes we are, with Cherry looking to take the lead. But, while he claims to favour the players here — “I don’t blame the players one bit,” he says — he’s not doing them any favours by bellyaching. He may not like it — after all, huge painful hits mean better Rock ’em, Sock ’em DVDs — but the players have a different agenda, to relearn how to bodycheck, and it’s not going to be easy or done with the flick of a switch at the start of the new season. How is it fair to them for Cherry to deny them their learning curve?

Some people always think the sky is falling, McKenzie concluded. This sport survived expansions, the Broad Street Bullies and the obstruction crackdown. The players eventually adjust. The game is too good and it always survives.

And how fair is for Cherry to cast blame on the NHL and Shanahan? The league does not enjoy punishing its players — the last 93 seasons of lenient discipline should prove that. But Cherry prefers to neglect what the world now knows about the dangers posed by concussions. The NHL has no such luxury.

Instead, Cherry admits he’s not interested in watching Brendan Shanahan’s admirable videos that clearly explain and illustrate violations of the new rules designed to cut down on behaviour that might cause concussions during the preseason. Instead, Cherry chose to pooh-pooh them, including Shanahan’s latest compilation of preseason hits, showing how the players have begun to adjust and how the game has nevertheless retained its physical element.

“I never saw ’em, I don’t wanna…,” he tells Ron MacLean. That’s just willful ignorance.

He quickly dodged a MacLean question in order to comment on Elliotte Freidman’s interview with Max Pacioretty from the CBC pregame show (video) — which includes Pacioretty discussing how he’s forgiven Zdeno Chara for the vicious hit that not only ended Pacioretty’s season, but nearly his career. Back in March, I wrote on that I thought this hit might have been intentional, payback for a slight shove in an earlier game, despite Chara’s claim he didn’t know who he was hitting or where he was on the ice.

Cherry not only strongly implied on Thursday it was intentional, he justified it, blaming the victim, coloring Chara’s payback as deserved — and himself as a hero. “You kids out there, I’m gonna save your life,” he says. It’s a cheap rationalization for the actions of his co-favourite team’s captain, a snipe at Friedman’s interview and certainly not in the spirit of Pacioretty’s trying to defuse the incident, all delivered under the thin guise of warning young players not to make the same “mistake” Pacioretty did.

But no part of this segment is more mean-spirited, nor has gotten more attention, than Cherry’s attack on three former NHL enforcers. He called Stu Grimson, Jim Thompson and ex-Hab Chris Nilan “turncoats,” “hypocrites” and “pukes,” saying they all wanted a ban on fighting and they blamed fighting for their respective past substance abuses and addictions.

The notion that they are turncoats itself is remarkable, if only because he clearly sees endorsing fighting as some sort of cause, a holy crusade or partisan conflict and, in Cherry’s world, one cannot betray the cause.

Yet, when all three appeared on TSN’s “Off The Record” Friday (video), Nilan and Grimson both denied Cherry’s characterizations, challenging him to show any evidence whatsoever that they’d ever said any of what he alleged and demanding an apology (which has not been delivered — let’s see what happens Saturday night).

Nilan seemed particularly aggrieved because he considered Cherry a friend, someone who had even kissed him during a Hockey Night segment back in 1986. He made his case forcefully on TSN 990’s Melnick in the Afternoon as well, and on Winnipeg’s TSN 1290 (audio), where he added Cherry’s comments were “ridiculous” and caught him off-guard. One wonders, realizing Nilan has been regularly speaking out against Chara’s hit on Pacioretty, just who is the betrayer here.

Thompson also appeared on CBC News (video) to say, “Shame on Don Cherry. Shame on him,” and he acknowledged that he is, in fact, now against fighting, saying it’s criminal conduct on the street and should be seen as such on the ice.

Dowbiggin, whose story on Cherry’s rant Mike Boone linked on HIO Friday morning, attacked Cherry from another angle on the same CBC News segment, saying, “Calling people ‘pukes’ and ‘hypocrites’ who are alcoholics is a new low for him. You know, personalizing the argument that way against guys who are dealing with real demons. I think, even for him, that’s a new low.”

It always amazes me that Cherry is still considered some sort of icon, the conscience of the game and the centerpiece of hockey coverage on the CBC, especially in the last six years when the sport has changed — and had to change — so dramatically. And CBC continues to reinforce Cherry’s messages by hiring younger acolytes, like Mike Milbury, who are no less antagonistic and myopic.

Rather than try to keep up with change, Cherry and his tribe have refused to change and they condemn all who do. He and they are far out of touch with the NHL, which is itself trying to get in touch with modern sensibilities on the dangers in sport (as Ken Dryden wrote last week) and create a safer game. And that has made Cherry more belligerent than ever, clearly blind to facts about the game and people in it.

This major challenge facing the NHL involves a learning curve here for us all. Hockey Night may think it is doing the game and the culture around it some sort of service by allowing Cherry to espouse his views, but he’s dragging it backwards each week, and Coach’s Corner has become a forum to defame people. In the end, by elevating Cherry above the game and his narrow view to the level of gospel, he and they become threats to the sport that they purport to love.


  1. kempie says:

    Excellent excellent story Stu. Very well done. Thank God people like you get it.

  2. Anthrage says:

    I have not watched a hockey broadcast on CBC in years. Don Cherry, and the absurd caricature of importance or relevance that he and the show share simply turns my stomach. A more bigoted and biased blasting of bombastic blather I have never seen.

    This recent disgraceful episode only assures me I am right not only in my decision, but also my indignation that my tax dollars support this farce. I’ve never understood how Don Cherry was seen as the icon many see him as, if anything he has always appeared to me as an anachronistic clown.

    I have nothing against fighting, in the street or on the ice. In a world of conflict of ideas, agendas and individuals, combat is inevitable, and in some cases, more honorable than the alternatives. When it is done honorably. There is nothing honorable about Don Cherry’s position or profiteering – and his statements…well, frankly, I wish someone would sock HIM one. Preferably one of the people he maligned.

    Consequences are what prevent the simply ugly from becoming grotesque. It’s about time Don Cherry faced some I think.

  3. Exit716 says:

    Don’s senile. MacLean is a self-serving smug know-it-all. What if Dave Hodge never had that temper tantrum that caused his ouster from CBC and brought on the boot-licking Ron and Don era. MacLean is a first class idiot. Rather than fire Cherry, they should just give MacLean the boot.

  4. wall2bay says:

    Not to mention…..Ron Maclean just sits there like a coward not raising any question or debate but then turns into a total A-hole when he interviews somebody from the NHL.

    “I kind of feel sorry for players who never got a chance to be a Montreal Canadien” – Cammalleri

  5. gerrymjrb says:

    I haven’t watched Coaches Corner in years…always turn to RDS for analysis of THE GAME. Cherry rarely talks about the game I’m watching and always disses my team….so why watch just to be aggravated. I know he’ll say something that bothers me.

  6. Marc10 says:

    If Cherry defames people on the taxpayer dime, they should send him packing.

  7. lakechamplain says:

    I think CBC is the problem, rationalizing everything Cherry says and does because, and this is the ‘well, DUH’ part of the comment, because they make so much profit from ‘Coaches Corner’. I used to feel sorry for Ron Maclean but just once I’d like to see/hear him have the cohones to disagree with his sidekick. Don’t hold your breath.
    His comments about Chara/Pacioretty were especially slimy; he as much said that Chara did it intentionally(my take: any player like Chara who’s played thousands of games know where they are on the ice and act instinctively. He knew what he was doing) and that it was justified payback. Way to go Grapes, teach those good young Canadian boys how the game should be played.
    I think the NHL should get into the fray, because he has become a black eye and an embarrassment for the sport. A new contract is coming up with the networks. Keep it simple: tell CBC either Cherry goes or we(NHL) go to CTV or TSN. Could someone with the techical savvy please start an online petition to achieve this goal?

  8. Michael says:

    Wonderful article, Stu. Cherry is a national embarrassment. The CBC HAS to get rid of him. He brings a very unwelcome FOX News vibe to his coverage.

  9. Nitroslices says:

    This is the best article I read in a long time. There were a lot of complaints sent to the CBC after Cherry’s rant. Below is the link to an article in the Globe and Mail containing their reply? Apparently the execs at CBC feel they averted another Cherry bomb. Expect to see a gloating Cherry on Coach’s Corner tonight having survived once again thanks to the classless managerial staff at CBC.

  10. SPATS says:

    Great article Stu.
    I used to love Cherry… before the information age. His type (I know many like him) are growing older and more insecure in a world that has passed them by. If only they would embrace technology and information instead of fearing it… They have their poster child in Grapes.


  11. AK_PK_Usay says:

    Excellent article, best piece i read on HIO in last couple of months!

    Cherry gets the respect of a wise man, but he is more on the mean and rotten side of things. He wasn’t always like this, but especially after his wife passed away he has lost most of his grip on reality.

  12. twilighthours says:

    Thanks stu, that was great.

  13. RockinRey says:

    What Don Cherry is wrong about is saying that Pacioretty deserved payback because he pushed Chara. That is completely ridiculous.

    But hold on !There is a certain segment that love to dump all over him!!!! And now it has become fashionable to dump on him.

    There are 3 issues that may or may not be linked together.

    1)Drugs in sport- players turning to alcohol, drugs, painkillers, ephedrine to either numb the pain, because of something insidious or chronic or life event whatever… I absolutely ‘believe’ that a lot of these guys are using oxycontins, ephedrine , and any pain killer they can to numb, summon the courage to do the job( of fighting or even play at the pro level), psyche themselves up whatever.

    Bobby Baun scored his winning goal on a broken leg which has become legend . Dont tell me these guys were not using ‘Bennies’ or anything else they could to get an edge or overcome injuries etc…

    And it stands to reason that some turn to alcohol and drugs because of an overabundance of money and all kinds of free time as much as they do to numb pain.There is no doubt about that. These cases of ex Pros falling on hard times are well documented.

    2) Concussions and head trauma as a result of fighting or blows from contact . It is called a ‘Contrecoup’ injury. Every time there is a collision of significant impact the brain slams around in fluid against the other side of the skull. No doubt many concussions are undiagnosed and these repeated blows go undetected and or are often misdiagnosed. Is there damage after repeated blows? For sure. The caretakers have to decide where the game is going. Do they allow for a hug rule? Do they allow for on defenseman to impede another to reduce the pressure on d- men ? The fact is there are risks in any sport. Auto racing, football.

    Don Cherry is entitled to his opinion and may lament where he sees it going. The NFL realized long ago that the QB was the marquee name on the roster. The instituted the in the grasp rule. And now they banned an chock block and low hits to protect him. But players were also using the helmet as a weapon….It is the nature of Football and Hockey to have these high impacts and have these risks. That is what draws us to the sport. The allure.

    But for anyone to tell me we wont see MMA guys with the same problems down the line they are clearly out of tune. And there seems to be an insatiable appetite for that sort of entertainment….

    But About the Rick Martin case.

    Top Canadian neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator, one of the leading voices on the concussion issue, believes Boston University researchers are “grandstanding” and basing their views on thin science. He said more in-depth research is needed to advance our understanding and, hopefully, treatment and prevention of this type of brain degeneration.

    Martin was not an enforcer, there was no apparent history of repeated concussions. Why? Whether because our ability to diagnose was not there or because the return to play protocol as it is today was not in place

    3) Complete lack of transition planning on the part of the league..

    Nilan probably turned to alcohol and substance because of injuries and pain . But maybe it also has something to do with being told you can’t play anymore. The big pay cheques stop coming. These have a hard time dealing with that….it becomes a cycle to block pain and realize that the career and what you once had isn now over. It is not uncommon for Pro athletes to fall on hard times because there is nothing for them after the game. In fact one player came out recently saying the NHlPA has failed many players in transitioning to a life after Pro sports. The result? The get down….

    But I agree with the gist of what Don Cherry was trying to say ( no matter that it was very ineloquent of him) and that the contention that fighting somehow leads to any sort of brain trauma is completely lacking in medical evidence at this point and these guys are hypocrites.

    Visit todays Toronto sun. See canoe online. Nilan softens his stance and the columnist is on record that Nilan told him they should ban fighting.

    There is so much misinformation out there. On one hand you George Laraque writing a blog stating a lot of the guys that do the job of enforcer dont even like fighting. And then you have him as a guest on the fan 590 in Toronto stating he supports fighting in the game and believes it is integral to the game to deter people from taking liberties with the skilled guys.
    But George also went on to say something incredulous. He said kids who would be fighting or hoping to make the NHL because that is what they are good at become depressed if fighting would be taken out of the game is absurd. If the game evolves and rids the games of the goons then so be it. But to say that fighting should stay in the game because it is somehow the responsible thing to do to maintain a livelihood is absurd.
    Do I believe concussions are a result of a head hitting the boards, a head hitting the glass, or a head making contact with a shoulder or elbow can cause trauma? Certainly. Is there evidence to support that blows from a punch in a 30 second tilt are as dangerous? Hardly.

    What I think Cherry is right about is the inferrence there are several other issues. Many of these players have demons whether or not they are somehow connected to hockey is any ones guess. And for them to blame it on hits or the pressures of the job is just plain wrong. Nilan turned to the bottle and elicit drugs because of his own weakness .Just like anyone else in society and just because they are NHL ers people want to make the connection to head trauma. Who the hell knows if Belak had depression since childhood? Nobody and maybe not even his intimate family members. Like Grimson said the incidents over the summer were random at this point and there is no evidence to say that all enforcers are going to suffer from depression any more than the average player.

    What is more telling is that in his blog George went on to say is that the use of substances, medication and ephedrine, pain killers is more widespread than anyone may want to believe. This is the bigger problem. Players having to resort to these medications to keep their jobs and get through the day because of the impact of the sport. They are well compensated. Should a league be willing to look at measure to improve the work environment? Absolutely ! It’s called risk management.

    As for Thomson saying he did not like fighting and that he and his peers did not like it … well that may well be the case. But others have since gone on record saying they actually did not mind fighting at all and actually liked it……

    Is there clear evidence that star players can flourish in a league and a game that relies on flow and speed and where players carry around a piece of reinforced fibreglass or lumber and use it as a weapon? Not at all. What makes the game appealing is the controlled collisions and the speed. There is such a fine line between a good and bad hit.

    There is still so much debate to this day as to whether the Stevens hit was legal and the type of hit that should be condoned.

    But dumping on Cherry for everything he says is wrong! Just as much as it is wrong that he implied Pac’s deserved the hit from Chara.

    • New says:

      I agree with RockinRey. Dumping on Cherry because he says something you disagree with isn’t a counter arguement. It only shows emotion.

      Gentlemen like Georges Laraque could play hockey but chose not to. They got big, slow, and staged fights. If you check Nilan’s figures he scored a few goals, about one every seven NHL games, and gathered points. Many more than Kordic, Brashear (who started with Montreal) or Laraque ever did. These guys were the dreadnaughts of the NHL. Big, cumbersome, and totally benched anytime something important was on the line. However if BGL was to paw you I sense a concussion would be probable.

      Nilan, Ferguson, those guys who played tough and scored some big goals were never huge men. Additionally they didn’t wear hard plastic armour to hit people with. I myself don’t see a lot of difference between being hit in the jaw with a shoulder pad or a skate boot, except hopefully the skate boot was accidental. Hitting someone with a splinted hand, a la Souray, is low. Hitting them with an elbow pad hard as a rock is just as bad.

      I sort of agree with Cheery on MaxPac as well. The strongest guy in the league plays D against you and you dismiss him with a shove. Of course he will chase you. Next you get around him a couple times, making him look like he can’t contain you. Then you stream past him picking up speed towards a loose puck? Man, stop and drop, because that pylon isn’t moving and you are. Of course Chara did it intentionally. Of course he can’t admit he did. Of course MaxPac has to say no hard feelings. Will it change MaxPac against Chara? You bet it will.

      Dumping on Don Cherry for expressing a point of view you don’t agree with is wrong. Present counter arguements and opinions but hardly call for him to be banned because he doesn’t care for your bandwagon.

  14. Ian Cobb says:

    Thanks for such a well written voice on this subject STU.

    I can not believe the CBC keeps such a caveman around.
    As mothers take their kids out of hockey in droves all over N. America, because of all the facts now known by the science and health community.

  15. gerrybell says:

    I love Don. He says what is on his mind and doesnt care about the repercussions. He is about the only one left who can say thing are not ‘politically correct’ but are probably right.


  16. Great article, as usual, Stu.

    Sounds like Cherry’s got your Hackles up. =)

    So, how many games would I give Scott Stevens for some of those hits? As many as each player missed before being able to come back. And, if they couldn’t, then neither should he. “You’ll never see these again, folks!” Well, Don, I didn’t like them back then either. Nice to see the rest of the hockey world is waking up to the difference between sport and gladiatorial combat. Get in the game or retire, Grapes.


  17. SCHabFan says:

    Time to end Don’s era as unofficial spokesman for Canadiana, our history and our game. It’s beyond embarrassing. Someone once said, “Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” Too bad Don hadn’t been within earshot.

  18. The_Franchise31 says:

    Last season cherry said it was the way the building are made that pacioretty got hurt. Now it’s his own fault fir pushing chars hahha and he says he’s not a hypocrite

  19. Danno says:

    Don Cherry has put his foot in his mouth so often he must have athlete’s tongue by now.

    He’s gotta go


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  20. Jbird says:

    Great piece.

  21. CrankFSU says:


    Well written and thoughtful article.

    The long standing arguments in support of fighting are:

    1.) if fighting wasn’t allowed it would be open season on the “superstars”.

    2.) the Lapierre’s of the game would be allowed to cheap shot any player with no threat of retribution.

    3.) the player’s will take care of it on the ice the NHL should stay out of it.

    Let’s me answer these in reverse order:

    3.) by their actions the current NHL player has little to no respect for his peers. He has demonstrated no ability to restrain himself when handing out “payback”. It’s the leagues job to punish, it’s the players job to win games. I grant you the NHL’s disciplinarian (Campbell) has been a joke. Is there anyone in North America that can challenge Shanny’s credibility. Future Hall of Fame inducted and anyon who watched him play knows he was never a candidate for the Lady Bing trophy. Hockey is an emotional game, but discipline shouldn’t be.

    2.) cheap shot artists. Referees do your job and call the penalties. Put the pests in the box and make them pay with a power play goal. This happens enough it will go away quickly. Note: don’t allow the team on the PK to ice the puck for free. NHL hold your referees accountable.

    1.) fighting stops superstars from being taken out. Habs fans take a deep breath — Marc Savard was well on his way to being a superstar in the league and now he may never play again. Sidney Crosby out for the last half of last season and the first part of this one. The ability to fight hasn’t and won’t stop it from happening. Meaningful suspensions for players, coaches, teams will help.

    Do the majority of fans standup during a fight? Yes. Do a majority of fans care 5 mins later? Doubtful.

    “It gets a team charged up when they’re flat”. If players need a fight to get them going then you have the wrong players and coaching staff. If Gionta, Cammy, Cole, AK, and Max Pac can’t get going on their own and the the two points from a win isn’t enough then we are in trouble.

    If the above argument isn’t enough take a look at games from 20 years ago. The difference in size and speed is remarkable. Too big and too strong to allow this to continue. The slow oncoming impact of a career of fighting isn’t shocking enough.should be, but isn’t. There’s going to be a death or paralysis right on the ice.


    • RockinRey says:

      Fighting is not a cure all. It acts as a deterrent. Just look at the referees inability to make those judgements and meet out the appropriate discipline for on ice transgressions. Stage fights are ridiculous. But in the moment they are probably necessary!

  22. WindsorHab-10 says:

    Nice article Stu. As for Cherry, what’s CBC thinking keeping him on the air? There has been tons of complaints and many more since Thursday night but on he goes. Don Cherry is a disgrace to hockey and a very bad example for youth hockey.

    “Hate Bruins like a sickness”

  23. edgar_falcon says:

    did anyone else notice Ron McLean’s face at the end there after cherry was done? he almost looked as if he was concerned… so heres a fun game to play everyone !! tell me what is he thinking!!
    i say ” well there goes my chance to keep my job…”

  24. LizardKing1967 says:

    Stu, absolutely one of the best articles written. Great piece.
    What would be the procedure to petition the firing (or dismissal) of Chery from CBC. After all, WE AS TAXPAYERS pay for this channel, and we should have the last word on programming.
    If anyone out there agrees, let’s get a petition going to can his a**.
    I strongly believe the hockey fans of Canada cannot stand this overrated clown anymore. Why do we have to be subjected to him time and again when WE AS TAXPAYERS pay for this channel!!

    If anyone will be in on this with me, let me know and we’ll get it going. I’ll draft it up, or if one of you is an official speech writter, that would be good.

    The Cup is coming home!


  25. cuzzie says:

    Thanks Stu, excellent piece. The worst of this is I don’t think anyone at CBC sports gives a rats ass. His next segment will probably get huge numbers, cause now all the rubberneckers want to see more damage. As for Elliote he should leave the CBC. TSN is becoming the hockey network and a talent like Elliote’s would be highly welcomed.

    Stay Thirsty My Friends!

  26. Sharks9 says:

    Fantastic article! I was disgusted watching the Scott Stevens “hit parade” and seeing several of those players lying on the ground, obviously concussed and having Cherry celebrate these hits as something wonderful!

    Not to mention blaming Max for having his face shoved into a stanchion. The idiot should retire.

    25 before 14

  27. homerbowen says:

    Subject: WINLESS

    It’s what Don Cherry and his Laffs have in common;

    Cherry has never won a Cup
    the Laffs never will

  28. Thomas Le Fan says:

    Cherry makes money off of this kind of stuff. Who’s the hypocrite Don? It’s time he retired “gracefully”. The game has passed him by. After all is said and done, we must paraphrase from the HUAC meetings in 1954.

    “Until this moment, Mr. Cherry, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” When Cherry tried to continue his attack, we angrily interrupted, “Let us not assassinate these lads further, sir. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

  29. New says:

    Those are very good points Mr. Hackel, and Cherry had some points as well. The MacLean/Cherry act presents a point of view. You present a point of view. The difference of course is you advocate for Cherry and MacLean to be removed because you do not agree with their views, sometimes.

    MaxPac said what he had to say. Chara had to say what his character and representation allow him to say. The rules have been changed. Divers will try and take advantage of that. Hockey is a game of emotion and great store is placed on players who can take care of themselves. Playing with your head down has always been dangerous.

    To me the most dangerous play has always been where you are being targeted by multiple players. Fouled and funneled into a blindside hit by someone you are unaware is in the vicinity. All out of emotion, not strategy. Get me?

    I suppose not. HIO isn’t what it used to be.

  30. Top Corner says:

    Great article Stu !!

  31. HabFan4Ever says:

    Mr Cherry should you be reading this, however doubtful. You continually call for the continuance of fighting and the most dramatic of hits in the NHL. Have you openly and courageously offered how much revenues you derive on an annual basis from your Rockem Sock vids ? You like everyone else has the right to your opinions however in or out of touch they may be but trouble is Mr. Cherry you are benefiting financially from the your opinion on this exact topic from the sales of the videos. Frankly the more controversy that you create, it’s pretty safe to say that the results are, more sales of your videos occur to those who espouse similar or like views. Had you made a public statement that all future revenues from such videos would be remitted to a charitable organization not in the least associated with hockey perhaps people might not question who is the hypocrite.

  32. Propwash says:

    Cherry accomplished exactly what he set out to do, draw attention to himself.

  33. V says:

    I watched the Cherry thing on Thursday night knowing full well what was coming – it was like a car wreck in slow motion and every brain cell said ‘turn this crap off’ – but was still surprised by how low he could go.

    He appears to be so out of touch with the reality that exists outside an NHL rink – that hockey must do everything it can to limit concussions or it is doomed – I wonder if he not now suffering the debilitating effects of head trauma he may have suffered in his own hockey career.

    I hope that is not the case, but he might be an example of the very thing he denies.

  34. smiler2729 says:

    I used to find Coach’s Corner amusing and funny back in the day but Grapes has sure soured since Rose’s passing in ’99. He has become an unwatchable bitter old man.

    My wife paused the game until I got home (she wanted me to see Friedman’s Pacioretty segment) and after watching the 1st period, I actually fast-forwarded through Coach’s Corner. Maybe I should pause every game for about 8 minutes so I can FF Cherry…

    Great article, Stu

    “If the Bruins played the Taliban, I’d root for the Taliban”

  35. Psycho29 says:

    Excellent article !
    Hopefully TSN will one day out bid CBC for the Saturday night games and Cherry will be finally put out to pasture.
    This latest episode only confirms that he is a rabid old dog that needs to be brought out behind the barn.

    Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

  36. Un Canadien errant says:

    I was taken aback at Don Cherry’s segment on Thursday, and was ready to write a long post condemning him and the CBC. It’s been at least ten years since he’s had anything worthwhile to contribute, and I expect him to ramble on nonsensically, but the bitterness of his tone and how out-of-touch he is was staggering.

    Luckily for me, I didn’t have to bring any attention to this issue. By the time I was ready to start typing, numerous articles were available online pointing out the antediluvian content and reptilian morality of his comments. Michael Landsbergh devoted his show today on this subject, and hosted Mr. Nilan, Grimson and Thompson and allowed them to respond.

    We have seen ESPN this week part ways with Hank Williams Jr. due to his ill-considered opinions. Mr. Williams had an opportunity to clarify his statements and apologize, but chose to wrap himself in the Freedom of Speech shroud, which was all we needed to know about his intent, that he did not misspeak and was not misunderstood. While ESPN is no paragon of ethical probity, it in this case wisely and correctly chose to end its partnership with Mr. Williams. The CBC, especially considering that it is a public institution, must review its association with Mr. Cherry, especially in light of his past transgressions.

    How about it NHL? No fighting, just hockey?

  37. SeriousFan09 says:

    Yep, still figuring out posting from my phone, as I was saying…
    NCAA: Greg Pateryn scored the first goal of University of Michigan’s season, which was assisted on by Mac Bennett, in an eventual 5-1 victory over Bentley University. Danny Kristo had two assists with North Dakota as they prevailed 4-3 over Air Force, he generated a give and go to assist on the game winner. Mark MacMillan can hardly talk of a poor start, with an assist in his first NCAA game with North Dakota, which gave North Dakota their first lead in their game.

  38. SeriousFan09 says:

    Prospect Roundup:

    QMJHL: When the Shawinigan Cataractes lose, it is generally not Michael Bournival’s fault. He notches his league-leading 3rd shorthanded goal of the season (10th goal of the season, good enough for 2nd overall in the league) and bagged a shootout goal but the team fell in the skills competition regardless 4-3 to Joel Bouchard’s Blainville-Boisbrand Armada.
    Morgan Ellis notched his 5th assist and 7th point of the season in a 3-2 loss as his Cape Breton Screaming Eagles lost to the Moncton Wildcats. Like last season, Ellis will spend the year in an uphill battle.
    Olivier Archambeault had his first multi point game of the year with a goal and assist to continue a three game goal scoring streak in a 6-3 loss to the Gatineau Olympiques.
    OHL: Jarred Tinordi suffered his first loss as captain of the London Knights as they fell 5-2 to the Windsor Spitfires. He was -1 with a 2 minute minor for checking from behind. The team had been 5-0-0 to start the year.
    NCAA: Michigan took a 5-1 victory over

  39. Bradlo says:

    Wow.. one of the most insightful and well-written articles I’ve ever read on HIO. Very puck daddy-esque

  40. VancouverHab says:

    Dear Mr. Hackel:

    That your one-sided and absolutist position is disagreeable is neither here nor there: you are a journalist — that is, a man paid to provoke controversy — and heavy-handed abusiveness is the default club in your trade’s bag.

    But doesn’t your sanctimoneousness — your self-righteous certitude that the victim of your attack is entirely wrong and you are entirely in the right, with absolutism complete — doesn’t that all sit very uneasy with your own approach?

    Is there no nuance to the matter, in your mind? Is this an age where one cannot diasgree without demonisation? You must be either a very small-minded writer or a writer with a mind as large as Divinity to claim to be Absolutely Right on a topic with so much obvious complexity.

    (PS: the flagrant bathos in the opening sentence is maudlin– it is only the first instance where your closed-minded extermism leads you to self-indulgence. )

    • Bradlo says:

      Really man?

      In English, it’s called an o-p-i-n-i-o-n piece

    • HabFab says:

      Not sure about Stu BUT that rant makes you sound like everything you are accusing him of!


    • V says:

      Wow. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. I thought Stu’s article was dead on.

      And Stu made his point without having to use any of those big fancy words… do you talk/write like that all the time or save it for your communications with us hockey riff raff?

    • Habspark says:

      Great article… I remain incredulous that the CBC through ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ seem oblivious to the fact that Cherry is an international face of not just the NHL, but the sport and thereby Canada itself. Though a Quebecer, I have grown up in England. My love for the sport and the Habs is well known: I take friends to watch games and I invite them over to watch playoff matches.

      It depresses me hugely that this is how Canada is represented; the CBC’s chosen ambassador to Canada’s sport across the world (and, CBC/Bettman, there is a world beyond knuckle-heads in the States) what does this say? His clothes are as ridiculous and out-dated as his opinions, and beyond that the man cannot even string a sentence together; and this is the guy they choose to appeal to sports fans across the world?

      I don’t need to tell anyone reading this what a great sport hockey is. To read the game and make decisions at that pace, at that level, on such a small surface deserves far more respect than the image Cherry portrays of hockey and hockey players. This is not the WWF, this is hockey- Canada’s game – and in my opinion, as a passport holder, it is actually insulting to Canadians to have Cherry still on air holding the flag for this sport and country. The Habs have Jean Beliveau; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have Don Cherry…!?!

    • MKing says:

      I actually find this post hilarious. This individual is so caught up in trying to sound ‘smart’ (it’s painfully obvious) that parts of the post barely make any sense. If a journalist wasn’t allowed to present opinions on any given subject, these sites simply wouldn’t exist.

      I thought this was a good article.

    • Habitoba says:

      Oh man, I had to comment on this post once I finished reading it but was beaten to the punch by quite a bit of people. If Vancouverhab is simply being the devil’s advocate here, he’s doing a great, convoluted job to the point where it smacks of effort while spinning his wheels trying to make an intelligent statement. If he’s being serious… wow.
      Good luck in life, man. Hope you write back or bestow upon us all your insight and wisdom about journalistic integrity some more.

    • habitual says:

      A muddy minded rant like that and you call someone else sanctimonious?

      Your post was so poorly written I can’t even allow for the possibility of satire.

    • Habspark says:

      VancouverHab: Take a look at Daniel Oppenheimer’s “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with using long words needlessly”.

      P.S. Postscripts are not punctuated with brackets. But to be fair, you won’t find that in your thesaurus.

    • RockinRey says:

      Very good points -Agree finally some balance to the Left agenda!

  41. nickster13 says:

    Good article. Anyone with any common sense can see Don Cherry has very little entertainment value. Those who remain loyal to him just apparently enjoy seeing a bigot with conservative opinions about everything. I hope they get him off the air asap and make efforts to improving their hockey product or else tsn will continue to bury them

  42. Da Hema says:

    I like Stu’s article above.

    Still, I wonder to what extent Cherry is making these comments precisely to garner attention. Whatever Cherry is–a failed former hockey player, a middling coach–the man knows how to manipulate the media to his own ends. He is, in other words, masterful at capturing the spotlight. I suspect he is home right now laughing at all of us.

    People like Cherry are master manipulators. He is also a liar, a hypocrite, and a coward. Unfortunately, given what we know about CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry will be in that first-period segment until he is dead.

  43. shootdapuck says:

    Well said!

    Maybe the “people’s” broadcaster in Canada will take notice of the ire Cherry’s latest rant has drawn.

    … the fans of the Boston Bruins now have lost forever any right to complain that “the league” is out to get their team, and that the Montreal Canadiens have some kind of pull inside the NHL home office.

    Charles P. Pierce – Boston Globe

  44. Roshizzle says:

    Its interesting that because you don’t agree with Cherry or Milbury’s opinions that you choose to use words like “acolytes,” and “myopic,” while you laud a guy like Thomson who owes every financial success he’s ever enjoyed – including more than above average compensation as an enforcer and his NHLPA pension – from fighting. Than for Thomson to come out against the very thing that allowed him to enjoy quasi-fame, fortune and a more than comfortable retirement is INDEED the exact definition of a hypocrite. He’s also a self confessed addict of illegal drugs and alcohol so I have no issue with the puke comment either, as he is “violating the criminal code” he so dearly wishes to defend from fighting himself with his illegal narcotic addiction. Hypocritical indeed yet again.

    But finally, to even bother to listen to Chris Nilan is an absolute joke. Nilan is a junkie of the lowest form, a guy who has sexual harassment, theft, assault, and indecent exposure on his resume in his post playing career. Essentially a lowlife addict, I have no sympathy for Nilan and his opinions are worthless. Heroin, pills, etc… All ILLEGAL drugs but the left wingers hang on his every word. Here is evidence Nilan did call for a ban on fighting: Despite Nilan’s claims he never said fighting should be out of the game, he was quoted last month by the QMI agency calling for a ban.

    “The NHL should ban fighting because it’s no longer a factor in the games.”

    “Fighters these days can even be called up before the games,” he said. “Come on, it makes no sense.”

    As far as Im concerned all you have to do is watch the reaction of the rinks after a good fight – The NHL is in the ENTERTAINMENT business ladies and gentlemen, and the fans love the fighting plain and simple. It plays a role as an active deterrent as well, but that has been effectively neutered by the implementation of the “instigator” rule. This allows the “super pest” types like Lapierre, Cooke, Ruutu, etc… to run around and cheap shot others without fear of retribution. As Brian Burke has said, “When they take fighting out of the game, thats when Im out as well ” (paraphrased). I’ve played and coached the game at all levels from minor hockey to Junior, and it is a necessary and integral part of the game both historically and in the present. The only people that are calling for a ban on fighting are the people who aren’t paying for the tickets to go to the games. The average Canadian household (and I’ve lived in 7 out of 10 provinces) love the fighting and can relate with the enforcer. In fact if you check merchandise sales, generally after the superstar player, the sale of the enforcer merchandise is the next highest; however the average Canadian cannot afford to attend the games live anymore, so they are forced to listen to the opinions of the left wing liberals who have never played the game. The same ones who throw their hands in the air when a grown man who owes everything he ever has to the game of hockey comes out against fighting years later… Kudos to Don Cherry, his rant was met with a very positive reception in Northern Alberta, and many other parts of Canada.

    • habsbeens says:

      Thankfully views like yours are in the minority.

      As for Nilan what he said about fighting pertains to staged fights which I oppose as well.

      I have no problem with fighting before the instigator rule was created because then it served a purpose.

      However we’ve seen a new type of player emerge who’s only role is enforcer and it detracts from the game not to mention that with the instigator rule we’ve seen an increase in stick work and cheap shots.

      Nice job however taking Nilan’s comments out of context. Not too mention you are guilty of a more severe form of derogation than you say Mr. Hackel is guilty of.

      As for Nilan’s views on fighting try this quote on for size:

      “I’ve never said I don’t want fighting in the game. I’ve always said there is nothing wrong with two guys dropping their gloves and going at it. Now, do I believe there’s something wrong when a guy calls a guy a week before a game and says, ‘hey, we’re gonna go next Tuesday night’, I think that’s total [expletive] and it’s foolishness. Do I believe a spontaneous fight that happens after an incident in a game where either one of your players is attacked by someone or given a cheap shot by someone, or you yourself receive a cheap shot or someone calls you out and asks you to fight … do I think there’s anything wrong with that? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that whatsoever. It’s within the rules of the game.”

      “I don’t think they should take fighting out, and I never said it.”

      Cherry went way over the line and hopefully he’ll be removed from the air waves sooner than later. If anything his rant has emboldened and empowered his opponents.

    • Bob_Sacamano says:

      I always find it interesting when someone just registers to write a comment like that… Well, I also wouldn´t use words like “acolyte” and “myopic” for Milbury. I´d find much stronger words but unfortunately I am not allowed to use them here.

    • Psycho29 says:

      You do know that Sheldon Souray doesn’t play for the Habs anymore, right?????

      Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

    • ClaytonM says:

      Why is it whenever some poster lists their hockey credentials I always consider their views to be comical? They always come across as paranoid Vietnam veterans with an argument of “you don’t know cuz you weren’t there”. I need to have played or coached hockey at some level to have an informed opinion? If that’s the case, why so dismissive of Jim Thompson’s opinion? He’s been there, done that, and on a more successful level. The fact that he disagrees with a narrative being defended by traditionalists means he’s a hypocrite? Maybe he knows what the future holds for the young player whose only recourse for an NHL spot is to take on the enforcer role.

      I’d defend Nilan, but he’s more than capable of doing that himself. Ask yourself this, though, Roshizzle – Could you turn as bright a spotlight on your life as Nilan has? Let’s ignore the fact that no one would watch a movie about your life. Could you look your friends and family in the eye if they knew what your demons were?

      Ken Dryden For NHL Commissioner

      • RGM says:

        On the subject of NHL player safety, clearly his time coaching kids from the age of 8 to 16 > the experience of a former NHL player. Get with the program, man! LOL

        GO HABS GO! 2011-12 is our year!

    • RGM says:

      “When the facts change, I change my opinions. What do you do, sir?”

      Thanks to the wonder of science and the ability for a person to educate themselves, Thomson knows a lot more about head injuries, depression, concussions, etc. than he did while he was an active player. If you watched his interview on OTR yesterday you would have heard him say that when he used to sit around tossing back a few beers with his pugilistic comrades, they all said how much they hated it. You heard about his anxiety over fighting. You heard about how he battled with mental health problems. Thomson’s opinions and views have evolved over time thanks to perspective and education. The same cannot be said for the knuckledragger Cherry.

      GO HABS GO! 2011-12 is our year!

    • RGM says:

      “The only people that are calling for a ban on fighting are the people who aren’t paying for the tickets to go to the games.”
      *Absolutely false. I’ve paid for many a ticket to the games and I have no use for fighting. So you’re already wrong.

      “The average Canadian household (and I’ve lived in 7 out of 10 provinces) love the fighting and can relate with the enforcer.”
      *Source? I would love to hear an explanation of how a family with an income of $60K relates to a guy that makes a million dollars a year to fight in the NHL.

      “In fact if you check merchandise sales, generally after the superstar player, the sale of the enforcer merchandise is the next highest.”
      *Again, source please. In recent years I’ve seen a ton of Carey Price, Saku Koivu, Mike Cammalleri, and Brian Gionta merchandise out there. Not so much for Georges Laraque.

      “however the average Canadian cannot afford to attend the games live anymore, so they are forced to listen to the opinions of the left wing liberals who have never played the game.”
      *Wait a second. You said earlier that the only people who want fighting out of the game are those who aren’t buying tickets. You also said that average Canadian loves and relates to the fighters. But the average Canadian isn’t buying tickets. What a tangled web we weave eh?

      GO HABS GO! 2011-12 is our year!

    • punkster says:

      Let me just suggest that those of you in “…Northern Alberta, and many other parts of Canada.” may want to stock up on old Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em videos and DVDs because the game is changing.

      ***Subbang Baby!!!***

    • Chorske says:

      Did you really just insinuate that fighting is a part of the game even at the minor level?

      My fave part of this post: his rant was met with a positive reception in northern alberta. Classic. That’ll sell on this site.


    On a positive note… the habs are the only team in the league to hold the oppostion to less then 20 shots.

  46. OneTimer says:

    Nice job, Stu. Great to have you on board at HIO.

  47. RJB says:

    Brilliant article Stu, agree with all that was said!

    “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
    – Bilbo Baggins

  48. Shane1313 says:

    Wow, really well said. Thanks for this!

  49. j2w4habs25 says:

    I knew this was going to blow up into this big thing once I watched it lastnight. I couldnt wait for the players to fire back .. its fun!! I just hope Cherry realizes how low he is!..

    Carey Price #31

  50. kungpowchicken says:

    I beg to differ. Let’s hear what Cherry has to say. Let’s discuss it and get it figured out. If Cherry is saying it many are thinking it. Good dialogue will result and we can implement change properly. Use this goof as a tool for progress is all i am saying. Go Habs!

  51. frozengolf says:

    Wow, great column Mr. Hackel! Very well written. I find it ironic that one of the hits Cherry showed we see Stevens laying out Paul Karyia, who was a favorite of Cherry’s. That hit essentially ended Karyia’s career as he was never the same player after that. I always liked to watch Coach’s Corner just to see what outrageous thing he would say next, but I think he has become an embarassment to himself and the CBC. Time to hang ’em up, coach.

    The three important elements of hockey are: forecheck, backcheck and paycheck.

  52. HardHabits says:

    I was about to give up on this site due to the childishness of some of the comments and to what I perceived as a certain amateurishness with the articles and how they are presented however Mr Hackel you have in one fell swoop restored my faith in HIO again. I am still in a self imposed hiatus however I felt it was necessary to come out from under the wood work and compliment you on a well written and most excellent article. Kudos sir!

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