Saturday, March 07, 2009


Cherry Derangement Syndrome

Just a terrifically smart and thoughtful piece from Chris Selley at the National Post's Full Comment. His opener is The Paragraph I Wish I'd Written, 2009:
I’m not exactly a fan of Don Cherry—not anymore, anyway. He can barely string three words together, let alone a sentence; he seems to get angrier, for some reason, as the years go by; and he makes a completely unjustifiable fortune from CBC. But the contrarian streak in me can’t help but defend him against people whose prejudice against him is as bizarre and overwrought as any of Cherry’s own—that is, I can’t help but defend him against just about every hockey writer in Canada. Whatever it is about him, there seems to be a remarkable unanimity among that fraternity: the shootout is great because the fans like it; fighting is bad despite the fact the fans love it; and Don Cherry is an awful, awful man.

Read the whole thing, but I particularly enjoyed this graf partway through:
I have always maintained that your average six-figure-earning Toronto executive is far more prejudiced against European skaters than Cherry is, which explains why Wade Belak was considerably more popular during his tenure at the Air Canada Centre than Mats Sundin. I suppose you could consider this “xenophobia,” as the Star’s editorialists do. I consider it perfectly natural, though in Belak's case undeniably infuriating. But either way, a fact’s a fact.


When I first read a couple of the articles Selley mentions, I almost thought they were practical jokes of a sort - I was expecting someone to bring up the fact that among those Cherry criticized for excessive celebration were snow-white Anglo-Canadian boys Gretzky and Crosby.

Funny, nobody did that.

I still like Don, myself. Yes, he's past his prime, but like Mark Messier in his last season he's still a net positive contributor, even if he's overpaid for what he provides.

I don't take Cherry too seriously but I do find him very amusing. His book, Hockey Stories and Stuff, is quite simply, hilarious. I would recommend it to any hockey fan.

Cherry is burlesque. He seemed like fun at first. Then his act grew tiring. Now it's just embarrassing.

I think it's OK to look back and remember the good times we've had with Coach's Corner. But we're under no obligation to keep watching. And for sure I'm tired of paying for it.

I very rarely watch any hockey talk between periods, on any broadcast, so I haven't seen Coach's Corner in a while. My opinion on Don seems to be similar to most everyone else, and they churn out better prose than me, so I leave it at that.

Oddly enough, I caught Don's radio show about a week ago. He was talking about a winger named Hodge on the Bruins. Sounds like the Bruins had just lost a game, and were on the skids in general. Cherry was in his office stressing and he heard a noise outside, it was Hodge shaving, all happy-go-lucky, like he was going to be heading out for dinner or something.

Cherry said that he never forgave the guy, he rode Hodge every day after that. One game Hodge had two goals playing RW, so Don laughs as he tells us that he switched him over to LW to screw up his chances of turning the hat trick.

I mean Don painted a better picture, and you can see Keenan doing the same dozens of times. Guys like Crawford and Nolan as well. Sutter for sure, MacTavish as well, this season especially. Probably all of them to one extent or another, if you follow a team closely enough to see it.

For every sentence that Don Cherry releases without filtering, 20 litres of virtual ink is consumed on the intarweb. All the hockey writers talking about Cherry should at least give him credit for taking about hockey.

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