Don Cherry (ice hockey)

Don Cherry (ice hockey)

Infobox Ice Hockey Player

image_size = 200px
image_caption = Don Cherry (left) with Ron MacLean at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
position = Defence
played_for = Hershey Bears
Boston Bruins
Springfield Indians
Rochester Americans
Tulsa Oilers
Vancouver Canucks
shot = Left
height_ft = 5
height_in = 11
weight_lb = 180
nationality = Canada
birth_date = birth date and age|1934|2|5|
birth_place = Kingston, ON, CA
career_start = 1954
career_end = 1972

Donald Stewart "Grapes" Cherry, (born February 5, 1934) is a Canadian hockey commentator for CBC Television. Cherry co-hosts the "Coach's Corner" intermission segment (with Ron MacLean) on the long running Canadian sports program "Hockey Night in Canada", and in addition recently joined ESPN in the United States as a commentator during the latter stages of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He is known for his outspoken manner, flamboyant dress, and staunch patriotism. [cite web | url = | title = The Don Cherry Lexicon | publisher = CBC | accessdate = 2007-12-01]

Prior to his broadcast career, Cherry was a National Hockey League player and coach. He played one game with the Boston Bruins, and later coached them during the days of Bobby Orr. He is also well-known as an author, syndicated radio commentator for The Fan Radio Network, creator of the "Rock'em Sock'em Hockey" video series, and celebrity endorser. Cherry was voted as the seventh greatest Canadian on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's television special, "The Greatest Canadian".

Early life and playing career

Don Cherry was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Cherry's maternal grandfather, Richard Palamountain, served in the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery during the First World War and received a citation for his efforts at Vimy Ridge. Richard was born in Gloucester, orphaned, and came to Canada as a home child. Don's father, Del Cherry, also served in the RCHA, and later in life Don became an honorary member.Fact|date=September 2007. His paternal grandfather, John T. Cherry, was an original Mountie. Don also has Scottish roots as his maternal grandfather, Jock MacKenzie, came to Canada in 1889 as a retired member of the British military.

As a youth, Cherry played tenor drum in a civilian pipe and drum band in Ontario. He played junior hockey with the Barrie Flyers and the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey Association. Cherry won the Memorial Cup as a defenceman with Barrie in 1953. In 1954 he dropped out of high school and signed with the AHL's Hershey Bears.cite web|url=|title=Top Ten Greatest Canadians - Don Cherry|publisher=CBC] cite web|url=|title=Greatest Canadian - To access, click on 'Did You Know' and then 'Next' until you get to page 3|publisher=CBC]

Cherry had a long playing career in professional hockey, spent mostly in the American Hockey League, but he also had stops in several other minor leagues and played one game for the NHL's Boston Bruins in 1955, when he was called up during the playoffs. According to Cherry, a baseball injury suffered in the off season kept him from making the NHL.cite web|url=|title=A Few Words About Rose|last=Cherry|first=Don] He retired from hockey in 1970. Cherry's younger brother, Dick Cherry was also a hockey player.

Career statistics

Coaching career

After the end of his playing career, Cherry struggled for a time as a Cadillac salesman and a construction worker. He worked as a painter earning $2 per hour. [cite web| url = | title = A 'straight talking' success | accessdate = 2007-08-03 | publisher = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] In the middle of the 1971-72 season, Cherry became the coach of the American Hockey League's Rochester Americans. In his third season behind the bench, Cherry was voted the AHL's "Coach of the Year." After his three-year stint in Rochester, he was promoted to the NHL as head coach of the Boston Bruins, a team which was coming off a successful run of two Stanley Cups and three first-place finishes, but would see the departure of superstars Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.

Cherry quickly developed a reputation for being an eccentric, flamboyant coach who strongly encouraged physical play among his players. It has been alleged he modeled the Bruins' playing style after that of his dog, Blue, a feisty bull terrier. This approach worked as the Bruins, known as the "lunch-pail gang", were one of the NHL's best teams during the latter half of the 1970s, capturing the division title three times from 1977-79. 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. Cherry won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 1976. In the 1977-78 season, Don Cherry coached the Bruins team to an NHL record of 11 players with 20 goals on a single team.

Cherry, who had an uneasy relationship with Bruins General Manager Harry Sinden, was fired by the Bruins after a critical coaching mistake during a 1979 semi-final playoff series against the Canadiens. Up by a goal with less than two minutes left in the seventh game, the Bruins were penalized for having too many men on the ice. The Canadiens' Guy Lafleur scored the tying goal on the subsequent power play and ultimately won the game in overtime. Montreal went on to defeat the New York Rangers for their fourth straight Cup title.

Cherry 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!" This could be seen on billboards all over Denver in the 1979-80 season. Cherry's hiring as head coach immediately rejuvenated the ailing franchise's fortunes.

However, as he later admitted, his outspokenness and feuding with Rockies general manager Ray Miron did not endear Cherry to management. While Cherry did much to motivate the players, goaltending was still the team's weakness as Miron refused to replace Hardy Astrom, whom Cherry dubbed the "The Swedish Sieve". Cherry recalled one game where his players had got ten shots on goal without scoring, but Astrom then conceded a goal from the opponent's first shot and so was yanked from net. Of course, Cherry didn't help things when, after watching a player ignore him and refuse to come off during a game, he reached over the boards and manhandled the offending player. His NHL career and the Rockies 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 final between the Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils, Cherry recalled the experience of the Rockies' last game where he was wearing cowboy boots and after it ended, the Rockies players formed two lines so he could depart the ice between them while acknowledging the cheers of the crowd.

Internationally, Cherry was an assistant coach for Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup and was head coach for Canada's team at the 1981 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Stockholm, Sweden.

Cherry was the part-owner and the former coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga IceDogs. The IceDogs' first three seasons were difficult ones with the team winning a total of 16 games. Cherry took over coaching duties in the fourth season. During Cherry's one season as head coach of the Mississauga IceDogs, the team managed 11 victories (only a slight improvement) and failed to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year.


After his Rockies failed to qualify for the 1980 Stanley Cup playoffs, Cherry 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 (especially the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs). Instead, they created Coach's Corner, a segment that appeared in the first intermission on Hockey Night In Canada, with Dave Hodge. In 1987, Hodge was replaced by Ron MacLean, with whom Cherry has been teamed ever since. For several years he also hosted his own half-hour interview show, "Don Cherry's Grapeline", 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."

Cherry's commentary is usually peppered with catch phrases like "All you kids out there...," unrestrained affection for his favourite players (including Steve Yzerman, and "Dougie," Kingston native Doug Gilmour, whom Cherry kissed on-air in a famous TV gag), and overall political incorrectness. Another trademark is his bull terrier "Blue", originally a gift from the Bruins players. Some of the advice he gives is unchanging from year to year.

"Grapes" tends to have favourites among his many tidbits of advice. During the late nineties, virtually every week he would spend time exhorting the evils of placing one's stick in the line of fire (it inevitably caused deflections, and sometimes goals). Two other perennial favourites are the folly of touch icing (a rule he blamed for the premature end to Pat Peake's career) and (several years ago) bemoaning the extremely sensitive rules about crease violation. He also despises the two-minute penalty for firing the puck into the crowd from the defensive zone. [cite news | url = | title = 'Stupid' penalty pain in glass: Grapes | publisher = "Ottawa Sun" | date - 2008-05-19 | accessdate = 2008-05-19]

He also spends time extolling true grit, such as when, in the 2000 playoff campaign, after sustaining a bone-shattering slapshot from Al MacInnis, a Phoenix winger crawled off the ice so that another could take his place. Usually at the end of the NHL season, his send off words in recent years have been about NHL prospects entering the NHL 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. The reason for this is that some players would be too disappointed if they are drafted later than expected, or worse, not at all.

Cherry returned to the news in May 2004 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, Cherry 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. Cherry returned to the "Coach's Corner" for the 2005-2006 NHL season - without the seven-second delay. For the 2007 Stanley Cup finals, NBC decided to feature Don Cherry 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 2008, ESPN announced that Cherry was joining Barry Melrose as a commentator for the remainder of the 2008 NHL 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. [cite news | url= | title=Cherry joining ESPN for Eastern Conference, Stanley Cup finals | date=May 6 2008 | accessdate=2008-05-06 | publisher=ESPN]

Political views and controversy

Over his career on television, Cherry has generated significant controversy about both hockey and politics. [cite web|url=|title=The toy department of journalism|last=O'Malley|first=Martin|publisher=CBC News|date=2002-10-01] [cite web|url=|title=The Biggest Mouth in Sports] In January 2004, on the subject of visors, Cherry said on Coach's Corner: "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". He was somewhat vindicated when a study was published that showed the majority of visor users in the NHL were indeed French-Canadians and Europeans. [cite web | url = | title = Cherry half-right on visors:survey | publisher = CBC Sports | date=2004-03-05 | accessdate=2007-12-01]

In 2003 Cherry made controversial comments on his CBC segment in support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Cherry 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." [cite news | title = CBC removes 'inappropriate' video from Web site | url = | publisher = ESPN | date = |accessdate = 2007-12-01]

After appearing in the Canadian House of Commons on November 7, 2006, he formally stated his support for the Prime Minister, 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." [ [ | Bloc MPs boo Don Cherry in House of Commons ] ]

Greatest Canadian top ten

In October, 2004, the CBC program "The Greatest Canadian" revealed that its 'top ten' viewer-selected great Canadians included Cherry. Cherry remarked that he would have been inclined to vote for Sir John A. Macdonald (if he had lived in the same time period), who had also been a Kingston resident. He finished seventh in the final tally. [CBC Greatest Canadian]

Acting career

As part of his fame, Cherry 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. His voice was also used in Disney's animated feature "The Wild", as a penguin curling broadcaster. He also appeared alongside the Trailer Park Boys in The Tragically Hip's video "The Darkest One".

In 2008, he also appeared on an episode of "Holmes On Homes", the widely-popular home improvement show. While not appearing scripted, Cherry apparently lived in the neighbourhood and he is shown speaking with Mike Holmes about the construction business and the ongoing project at a neighbour's house.Fact|date=September 2008

Business and charitable work

In 1985, the first of a chain of franchised sports bars/restaurants bearing Don Cherry's name was opened in Hamilton. Cherry 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, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta. [cite web | url ='s%20Restaurants.htm | title = About the Restuarants | publisher = | accessdate = 2007-12-31]

Don Cherry has lent his considerable persona to selected charitable causes, most significantly, organ donation awareness.

In 1997, Cherry's wife, Rose (whose name motivated Cherry to always wear a rose on his lapel) died of cancer. Cherry 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. Don Cherry also formerly owned the arena's main tenants, the Mississauga IceDogs.

Cherry is good friends with long-serving Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion. During her 87th birthday, he joked that that while 98% of the city voted for her, he was looking for the remaining 2% that didn't.

Don Cherry in recent years has become one of the biggest public personalities to endorse Cold FX cold medication. In the first year Don Cherry worked for the company, $1 from every bottle sold of COLD-FX was donated to Rose Cherry's Home for Kids.

He has also done television and radio advertisements for the sandwich store chain Quizno's, in which he appeared with sportscaster Jody Vance, where he frequently utters the slogans "You get more meat, " "Toasted tastes better" and "You're gonna love it".

Other accolades

In 1993, Don Cherry lent his voice to the charity song "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Techno" for Canadian Techno group BKS.

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

On November 22, 2006, featured Don Cherry on their frontpage in an e-ticket feature. [ The Biggest Mouth in Sports]

In June 2007, Cherry 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". He joins an elite group of just 40 people so honoured, including William Lyon Mackenzie King, John Diefenbaker, Lester B. Pearson and Vincent Massey.

In February 2008, Cherry was awarded the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service for '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'. [Canadian Forces CANFORGEN 044/08 CMP 044 181606Z FEB-08]

The CBC show "Who Do You Think You Are?", about Canadian celebrities who are digging for clues to their family histories, features Don Cherry. Cherry searched for information about his grandfather at sites in Kingston including the Royal Military College of Canada, and the Marine Museum.

ee also

*List of NHL head coaches
*List of NHL one game wonders
*List of NHL seasons
*List of NHL players
*List of AHL seasons
*List of WHL seasons


External links

*hockeydb|952|Don Cherry
*legendsofhockey|12256|Don Cherry
* [ CBC Sports - In Depth: Don Cherry]
* [ ESPN E-Ticket - The Biggest Mouth in Sports]
* [ CBC Digital Archives - Don Cherry: A Coach, A Commentator, A Controversy] - including videos of television disputes
* [ CBC Coach's Corner Archive page]

NAME = Cherry, Donald Stewart
SHORT DESCRIPTION = ice hockey coach, television commentator
DATE OF BIRTH = February 5, 1934
PLACE OF BIRTH = Kingston, Ontario, Canada

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