Don Cherry (ice hockey): Wikis


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Don Cherry at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Born February 5, 1934 (1934-02-05) (age 76),
Kingston, ON, CAN
5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Pro clubs Hershey Bears
Boston Bruins
Springfield Indians
Rochester Americans
Tulsa Oilers
Playing career 1954 – 1972

Donald Stewart "Grapes" Cherry, (born February 5, 1934) is a Canadian ice 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.[1]

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

Cherry was born in Kingston, Ontario to Delmar (Del) and Maude Cherry.[2] 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 an English orphan who was emigrated to Canada as one of the Home Children. Palamountain was also a veteran of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.[3] Cherry's father Del was an amateur athlete and worked as an electrician with the Canadian Steamship Lines.[2] On the March 15, 2008 edition of Coach's Corner, Cherry wore the green and gold colours of County Kerry, Ireland. In his segment following the game, he claimed ancestry from that region. Cherry's younger brother, Dick Cherry played hockey at various levels, including one season in the National Hockey League.

"The point I'm trying to make is Rose Cherry’s Home for Kids is named after a person who never quit; 16 years in the minors making $4500; 53 moves; having babies alone; traveling pregnant; living in God forsaken places (I am ashamed) and as God is my judge never complained once. I know at times she must have been unhappy, especially at the end of my career, no job, no trade, no education, could not get a job sweeping floors. Sixteen years of this and still she "Hung Tough" as we say in hockey."
——Don Cherry[4]

Cherry 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. He dropped out of high school, and in 1954 he signed with the American Hockey League's (AHL) Hershey Bears.[5] In his first year with the Bears, he met his future wife Rosemarie (Rose) Cherry née Madelyn Martini (born 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.[4] Six years after Cindy's birth, Rose gave birth to son Tim Cherry.[6] When Tim needed a kidney transplant at age 13, Cindy donated hers. The two currently live across the street from each other, around the corner from their father.[7] Rose died of cancer in 1997, and in honour of her perseverance, Don created Rose Cherry's Home for Kids.[4]

Cherry 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 Cherry, a baseball injury suffered in the off season kept him from making the NHL. He retired as a player in 1970.[5] Cherry won the Calder Cup championship (AHL) four times — 1960 with the Springfield Indians, and 1965, 1966, 1968 with Rochester Americans. He also won the Lester Patrick Cup the Western Hockey League Championship with Vancouver Canucks in 1969.

Career statistics

    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 Trois-Rivières Lions EPHL 23 3 4 7 12 7 0 1 1 2
1959–60 Springfield Indians AHL 46 2 11 13 45 1 0 0 0 2
1960–61 Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers EPHL 70 13 26 39 78 7 0 3 3 23
1961–62 Springfield Indians AHL 11 1 3 4 10
1961–62 Sudbury Wolves EPHL 55 9 20 29 62 5 3 2 5 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 5 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 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.[8] In the middle of the 1971–72 season, Cherry 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, 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, 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 powerplay 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 defenseman Mike McEwen ignore him and refuse to come off during a game, he reached over the boards and manhandled McEwen to the bench. 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 World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden.

Cherry was the part-owner and the former coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga IceDogs. As owner and general manager, he gained notoriety by refusing to take part in the CHL import draft, and only play North American born players. The IceDogs' first three seasons were difficult ones with the team winning a total of 16 games combined. 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. Cherry drew some criticism for his decision to suddenly allow European born players onto the IceDogs line-up during the one season he coached the team.


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 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."[5] Cherry 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 Cherry 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).

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 Kingston native Doug Gilmour, whom Cherry 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, originally a gift from the Bruins players. Some of the advice he gives is unchanging from year to year.

Cherry tends to have favourites among his many tidbits of advice. Virtually every week he spends time exhorting the evils of attempting to block a shot using only one's hockey stick (as it often causes 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.

He also spends time extolling true grit, such as when, in the 1999 playoff campaign, a Phoenix Coyotes winger crawled off the ice after enduring a bone-shattering slapshot from St. Louis Blues defenceman Al MacInnis 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. For the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, NBC decided to feature 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.[9]

Political views and controversy

Over his career on television, Cherry has generated significant controversy about both hockey and politics.[10][11] In 1992, he referred to Finnish-born Winnipeg Jets Assistant Coach Alpo Suhonen as "some kind of dog food", which triggered a threat of a law suit from Jets owner Barry Shenkarow. 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" to illustrate his claim that visor users have less respect for player safety. 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 showed visor users in the NHL commit fewer sticking infractions.[12] Cherry returned to the "Coach's Corner" for the 2005–06 NHL season without the seven-second delay.

In 2003, Cherry made controversial 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 happened. Cherry 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". Cherry berated MacLean about being neutral on the war, then slammed the Canadian government for not supporting the U.S. in the war.[13] 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."[14]

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."[15]

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.[16] Cherry is the only living member of the top 10 greatest Canadians who hasn't been awarded an Order of Canada.

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. He 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. 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 his brother-in-law's house.[citation needed]

Business and charitable work

In 1985, the first of a chain of franchised sports bars/restaurants bearing 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.[17]

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.[1] The Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario is located on "Rose Cherry Place," a street named for his late wife.

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

Cherry in recent years has become one of the biggest public personalities to endorse Cold FX cold medication. In the first year 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". Cherry is currently lending his image on Rayovac brand batteries intended for sale in Canada.

On October 21, 2009, the Kingston Frontenacs celebrated "Military Night" by paying tribute to Cherry. Jerseys were made that resembled one of Cherry's famous suits, and afterward the jerseys were auctioned off for charity.

Other accolades

In 1993, Cherry lent his voice to the charity song "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Techno" for Canadian Techno group BKS. On November 14, 2005, 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." 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". Others honoured include 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'.[18]

See also


  1. ^ "The Don Cherry Lexicon". CBC. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  2. ^ a b "The Greatest Canadian". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  3. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are? (Don Cherry)". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  4. ^ a b c Cherry, Don. "A Few Words About Rose". Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  5. ^ a b c "Top Ten Greatest Canadians - Don Cherry". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  6. ^ "Cherry: Has He Gone Too Far?". Maclean's Magazine. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  7. ^ Burnside, Scott. "The Biggest Mouth In Sports". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  8. ^ "A 'straight talking' success". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  9. ^ "Cherry joining ESPN for Eastern Conference, Stanley Cup finals". ESPN. May 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  10. ^ O'Malley, Martin (2002-10-01). "The toy department of journalism". CBC News. 
  11. ^ "The Biggest Mouth in Sports". 
  12. ^ "Cherry half-right on visors:survey". CBC Sports. 2004-03-05. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  13. ^ The Don Cherry Lexicon
  14. ^ "CBC removes 'inappropriate' video from Web site". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  15. ^ | Bloc MPs boo Don Cherry in House of Commons
  16. ^ CBC Greatest Canadian
  17. ^ "About the Restaurants".'s%20Restaurants.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  18. ^ Canadian Forces CANFORGEN 044/08 CMP 044 181606Z FEB-08

External links

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