Colorado Avalanche v Edmonton Oilers

I am going to do my very best to not turn this into a screed against Don Cherry as I really don’t intend it to be one. Okay, I kind of do. But, still, bear with me. I have made it known in no uncertain terms that I am not a fan of Cherry. I think he’s a xenophobic, semi-racist, ignorant, militaristic, and possibly slightly senile old man who once served a purpose but is now just a beacon for ratings and money. And that’s kind of my point.

On Saturday, Cherry went on another one of his patented tirades that don’t make any sense claiming that there is no crime nor drugs in hockey because of the level of respect that is prevalent in the NHL. And because hockey players wear ties to the rink. Or something. I’m not going to get into the depths of how factually untrue this statement is as it ignores decades of hockey players with drug abuse problems (Derek Boogaard and John Kordick spring immediately to mind and the rest of the list is a long one), we’re used to Cherry saying ridiculous and false statements. At this point, the exercise of slamming Cherry or calling him ignorant or pick your adjective is an exercise in repetition. We know. The interesting point to come out of all this comes from our own Drew Fairservice who tweeted this on Saturday night:

If we’ve accepted the fact that Cherry is what he is and comments like these are becoming his norm, then his only purpose would be that of an entertainer. That’s fine, hockey could use a few more of those. But what happens when the entertainer stops entertaining? What happens when we get tired of the nonsense? What becomes Cherry’s purpose?

The cynical, and also correct, answer of ratings and money is beside the point. Cherry’s salary, estimated at $800,000 per year, is only justifiable due to the fact that, regardless of what is coming out of his mouth, the man generates eyeballs on the screen. A Globe and Mail report in 2011 puts Cherry’s ratings anywhere between 2.2 and 2.4 million viewers, though his ratings have slipped slightly during his broadcasts (the Globe report reported that his ratings peaked at 2.5 million viewers while falling to 1.5 by the end of his segment, though, small sample size). Still, from a Canadian TV perspective, a couple million viewers for 7 minutes of hockey talk is nothing short of ridiculous. Therefore, from the CBC’s perspective, this is exactly Cherry’s purpose, and the argument is a valid one.

But, from a hockey fan’s perspective, or from a viewers perspective, the snark is beginning to outweigh the product. This just isn’t entertaining anymore. Cherry has always been off-kilter and has always held the abrasive personality that he continues to put on, probably on purpose, that he displays each and every Saturday but, at a certain point, we reach the other side of the equilibrium. You can only spout nonsensical rhetoric for so long before the point is lost. Cherry has reached that point. As Drew correctly points out above, if no one is taking him seriously, the purpose has been lost. Cherry is rightfully an object of derision for many hockey fans (and an object of affection for many others, I don’t want to discount those who legitimately enjoy Cherry and his schtick, my esteemed editor being one of them) but we’ve reached the point where the derision has become pointless, the arguments have fallen on deaf ears, and the issue has been exhausted.

Nothing that Cherry said on Saturday was any more offensive than his standard script that has become expected to be inflammatory each week but, without the expectation of something resembling a point or a fact, it’s just become a real life Colbert Report with humor replaced by sadness. Don Cherry has never been one to hold integrity nor respect of a certain segment of hockey fans but the fact that he has just become a punch line has rendered him useless. You can’t be inflammatory if nobody is listening and you can’t be interesting if nobody cares. Cherry’s made his point, we’re just tired of hearing it. With an utter lack of anything resembling purpose or relevance, Cherry has divulged himself of any and all responsibility to be correct, either factually or politically. If we don’t take him seriously, he can say what he wants as no matter what spills out of his mouth, it will only be met by mockery or derision. Cherry has the right as a commentator to say what he wants but a commentator held to no standards has no standards to live up to and, therefore, can turn saying what he wants into nonsense.

While Cherry may have lost his allure as anything other than fodder for arguments, he’s not going anywhere soon, his ratings and his stature will guarantee that so, while we can complain, insult, and argue, our words will not lead to action. The CBC had their chance when Cherry’s contract was up and chose to continue milking their cash cow. Which I totally get but wish they hadn’t. Cherry has been reduced to a highly-rated filler of airtime, which is a shame for what is supposed to be the number one hockey showcase in a hockey-crazed country. Coach’s Corner could be so much more but instead we’ll have to settle for exasperated faces from Ron MacLean for anything hinting at realism during the first intermission.

Comments (45)

  1. Cherry was a dinosaur before the meteorite hit and wiped out them all out… He was wearing a tie so it must have missed him.

  2. I have never understood the Cherry appeal. And to keep myself from being banned, I will just leave the rest of my opinion regarding him to myself.

    • I’m on your side. No banning shall there be.

    • I’m curious about those “who legitimately enjoy Cherry and his schtick”

      Do those who really enjoy them not recognize it as schtick?
      And if they do so, how do they not realize how inane it has become?

      As for the ratings, it has to be one of two things.
      1. Most everyone watching him is watching to see what will come out of his mouth and make fun of him on Twitter & at the water cooler.
      or
      2. Most everyone watching him just isn’t that bright.

      I really hope it’s the first.

  3. I turn the channel. It’s the most effective response to him. Advertisers are the ones who are going to, ultimately, decide his fate.

    • Only if you’re a Neilsen viewer. If you don’t actually have a Neilsen box connected to your television tracking your viewing habits, neither the CBC nor its advertisers are going to have any clue that you changed the channel.

  4. Cherry’s comments are as loud and as gimmicky as his suits. Good article.

  5. “On Saturday, Cherry went on another one of his patented tirades that don’t make any sense claiming that there is no crime nor drugs in hockey because of the level of respect that is prevalent in the NHL. And because hockey players wear ties to the rink.”

    This is actually not as nuts as it sounds. There are studies showing that misbehavior in schools goes down if you make the same group of kids wear school uniforms. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s a pretty proven phenomenon. It’s a bit of a stretch, but not a crazy one to suggest that the same kids will likely grow up with better manners if forced to do this for their entire life.

    That said, the rest of his rant reeked of racism.

    But as to the question as to why Cherry needs to be on CBC, it’s because even people who hate him still watch him, if only to later take issue with something he said. Doesn’t matter to budweiser. 3 million eyes are 3 million eyes.

    • But lots of teams/sports enforce this. I believe the Yankees require you to shave regularly and wear a suit to the game. They haven’t had anyone using ‘roids now, have they?

    • Yes, except the NBA has a strictly-enforced dress code, and has since the Artest melee. It was a HUGE FUCKING STORY, and has generated all the ridiculous looks players have had in recent years (bowties, crazy jackets, glasses-for-the-sake-of-glasses).

      As noted, most baseball teams enforce one after spring training as well. The NFL is the “loosest” league, but even there athletes have been dressing much better in recent years.

    • The two of you are misunderstanding.

      You’re telling me that adults may behave badly even if you make them wear suits for an hour per day as a counterexample to Cherry’s hypothesis. Cherry didn’t say they wouldn’t.

      The link he drew was between dressing CHILDREN up in uniforms and the children showing respectful behavior. That may sound like a dumb superstition, but it’s actually not; it’s a proven sociological phenomenon across all sorts of cultures.

      I don’t know if they’ll grow up to be more respectful because of this, but it’s not some leap into a black abyss to theorize it would help.

      If you want to use the A-Rod or Ron Artest as a counterexample, you’d have to show that they’ve been dressed up in formal uniforms (not to be confused with sports uniforms) before and after every organized game they played in their entire lives.

      Strike that, even showing that wouldn’t be enough because those are just two guys. You’d have to show the majority of North or South American ballplayers were dressed up as Canada’s junior players are (according to Cherry).

      • In demanding examples of A-Rod and Artest (and, quite frankly, this whole line of thinking in general) you’re completely ignoring the underlying income disparity between the average family that plays baseball or basketball vs that which plays hockey.

        A-Rod was born in one of the most crime and poverty heavy areas in New York until his family moved to the Dominican and eventually circled back to Miami. Not exactly great places to be waltzing around in suits, let alone generating the income required to purchase them.

        Ron Artest grew up in one of the worst projects in Queens and, among other things, watched a player get stabbed to death on the court at a YMCA (!) tournament. Again, not exactly somewhere you are going to be walking around in your Sunday best.

        The fact is hockey is, publicly, squeaky clean because the backgrounds of those who make up its population are vastly different in a socio-economic context than those of others. Sure, we can attribute it to formal wear, but that’s only a byproduct of the underlying cause.

        • I answered this once, but it was eaten.

          I’ve suggested only that Cherry’s idea isn’t crazy. Not that it’s right.

          First of all, the (make kids wear uniforms)–>(see better behavior) effect persists across racial and socio-economic lines.

          Secondly, A-Rod’s public school is better funded on a per-student basis than any minor midget team anywhere. Had they wanted, they could have made him wear a uniform.

          Third, that they didn’t and minor midget teams do is Cherry’s point. He’s claiming Canadian practices of children produce better citizens than other cultures’ practices with children.

          Is he right? I don’t know. Might be that he’s mistaking correlation with causality.

          But he’s on much more solid ground than you are with this (A-Rod wears a suit as an adult which is totally a counterexample)/(A-Rod’s school has less money than a minor midget team) stuff.

    • I think you are confusing correlation with causation. For instance there are lots of extenuating variables associated with making kids uniforms and manners. For instance even though when people eat more ice cream there are more shark attacks one doesn’t necessarily cause the other, just like uniforms doesn’t necessarily lead to better mannered people.

      • I’m not confusing anything. Cherry’s the one who’s drawing the causal connection between making kids wear uniforms and being better behaved adults.

        My thesis is that there’s some evidence to support this idea and, thus, he’s not crazy to suggest it. I never said he was right.

        • No Cherry’s comment as quoted by you is a causal relationship, casual correlation. And your comment of “There are studies showing that misbehavior in schools goes down if you make the same group of kids wear school uniforms” is also a causal statement, not a correlation statement.

          • Buddy, I didn’t run these studies and I didn’t write their conclusions. And it’s Cherry who thinks there’s causality between how Canadians dress their minor midget kids and hockey players not getting into much trouble.

            “There’s enough data that Cherry thinking this isn’t crazy,” which is the only conclusion that can be attributed to me, IS NOT an example me assigning causality (or correlation, for that matter) to anything. It’s just an observation that data exists that fits his hypothesis, whether or not the hypothesis is right, which I take no stance on.

  6. I just want to see if he’ll finally wear something that’ll generate the following headline:

    “Record Seizures Reported Across Canada – ERs Flooded after Coaches Corner Broadcast”

  7. I think the only reason the ratings are so high is because bars and lounges don’t change the channel during intermission. At home I’ll go and grab some beer and nachos or something to that effect. It’s only what, seven minutes? I’m surprised after all these years he still manages to fill up the time. I used to like HNIC in the 90′s and pre-lockout. It’s really gone downhill. Almost makes me rather watch NBC *puke*

  8. Yeah! Fire Don Cherry!!

    You know what we need? Another terrified wuss to sit there and say, “Both teams played hard. Both teams played hard. Both teams played hard. Both teams played hard. ”

    Have you noticed how many people CBC has packed onto their hockey panel lately?
    Have you noticed how none of them every actually say anything?

    They should totally fire Don Cherry and use his salary to hire another three or four bodies to squeeze into that already useless panel.
    I think there is some space for irrelevant bodies in the back of the set, they just need a few more chairs.

    Then we could get back to nobody saying anything. Hooray!

    • Or they could fire him, PJ Stock, Glenn Healy, and Ron MacLean, and hire more guys like Friedman. Maybe bring in some new blood – how about Justin Bourne, for example?

      But also finding people who are willing to speak their mind. Cherry is watched because he’s outrageous, so find someone else who is also kind of outrageous but actually makes sense. In English footy, all the announcers are crap. Bland and boring. Then they hired Gary Neville, a former player. Now, I hated Neville as a player… but he is a good commentator. He uses newer stats (soccer versions of fenwick and such), he’s willing to criticize even his former teammates, etc. We need a hockey version of Gary Neville, and I never thought I would say that.

  9. I happened to tune in at the exact moment Don Cherry went on his tie-wearing/no drugs/respect rant and it was an absolute train wreck…but isn’t that what he’s on for? Something so outrageous you can’t avert your eyes? I think he’s pure entertainment. (…on a train wreck kinda level.) Sorta like all the Kardashians all rolled into one, with Project Runway thrown in on the side for fashion sense. Don’t worry…soon enough he’ll dead or booted by the network, then we’ll get to hear all about the neutral zone trap for 20 minutes. Enjoy it while you can and (gasp!) quit taking the everything so seriously. The future will never be quite the same.

  10. Cherry used to be entertaining and used to bring attention to guys who didn’t always get it for some good hockey lays, or a great shift or something, but now I have stopped watching. I’m not saying people shouldn’t have personalities in sports and in hockey in particular because they really should. I hated how people got upset about Yakupovs celebration, but Cherry has become shock and awe now except it isn’t shocking that he keeps doing it and the only awe about this is that he still has a job.

  11. I agree with the fact he at least presents something diiferent than the average yammering mindless fool you would typically have to listen to. I take him like I used to take trailer park boys. Yes it’s stupid, yes it’s offensive, but yes it’s entertaining. I’ll let other people worry about over thinking what he represents to society, and keep laughing at him getting everyones knickers in a twist for one reason or another.

    • ” I’ll let other people worry about over thinking what he represents to society, ”

      And there’s your problem. While Cherry raves that there’s no drug problem in the NHL, they get a free pass.

      At least if he would bring up something useful (like how there’s never been an Olympic failure of note), I’d respect him. But he’s attributing the lack of a drug problem to a dress code.

      As Don himself said – kids are watching this. We’re going to have some crappy debate teams in 10 years if they thought this is how you make an argument stick.

  12. I’m inclined to agree with Kyle to a certain extent. A couple of season ago he seemed to be doing some good work, particularly highlighting important issues such as the ‘STOP’ sign on the back of helmets for junior players to prevent hitting from behind and his calling for no touch icing to avoid unnecessary injuries.
    Something which bizarrely seems the total opposite of his love of fighting and tough guys who seem to do little else but cause injuries in the NHL.
    These last 1-2 years have been a travesty but I do wonder if some of it is down to the producers or MacLean pushing him in a certain direction – as much as he can be pushed.

    It’s funny the Globe stats show viewers tailing off towards the end of his segment because that’s exactly what I do now: tune in to see what he’s getting all wound up about, realise it actually matters very little and then turn over til the 2nd period starts.

    I’d suggest getting back on to campaigning about something worthwhile (like the junior hockey safety) but fear he may be too far down the road to come back to sense and reason.

  13. Hypothetical: If CBC fired Cherry or Cherry retired, who would be your pick to take over Coach’s Corner?

    • If anyone answers anything other than Brian Burke, they aren’t worth listening to.

      (Torts would be great just because the segment would last 25 seconds each week.)

      • You want an american to run the segment for hockey night in canada?

        that will be received about as well as randy cunneyworth in montreal

        • Would Tortorella care?

          “Dear CBC, why is a Yank on Coach’s Corner? Sincerely, Mad in Manitoba.”
          “Dear MadMan, you have got to be kidding me with that crap. That’s why you lost the original Jets. Kiss my ass. –Torts.”

  14. I have to disagree .. not a Cherry fan but lets play the “pro sports word association game” starting with the NBA.
    NBA misbehavior : Gilbert Arenas and Crittendon drawing pistols on each other in a locker room.
    NFL misbehavior : Ray Lewis being, shall we say, implicated in a murder at a nightclub.
    NHL misbehavior: your example is a fighter who took enormous punishment AT THE REQUEST OF HIS TEAM, was in in enormous pain, and got addicted to TEAM-prescribed pain killers and alcohol? I don’t support fighting, I find the Boogard story tragic, but I am NOT judging that man or treating him as a common drug user. Frankly, shame on you for treating him as if he had a character flaw. I’d say he had more character than many who would judge him.

    • Fine.

      NHL misbehavior: Dany Heatley. Mike Danton.

      Next?

      • HI Stephen – I think you are pointing out that that not every NHLer is a paragon of virtue – I hear you.
        The NBA/NFL examples I gave are people making a conscious decision to be around and impersonate violent criminals. What bugs me is that, with the world on a plate, they chose to live and glorify the “thug life” as they proudly call it.
        I just can’t place Danny Heatley and Mike Danton in the same boat. The former drove drunk and got in an accident that killed his friend. The latter was accused of trying to kill the man who by most accounts abused him. These actions are not excusable, yet most of us can at least understand how somebody might end up behind that wheel, or making that phone call.

        • Just wanted to point out that Heatley (aka Mr. I’m no longer happy here so I demand you trade me) was not drunk, merely speeding ridiculously…

  15. Thing is, without Cherry, CBC will have to address their left-wing bias. With Cherry on the air, they could be shilling Das Kapital the rest of the week and it would balance out.

  16. NBA, NFL… mostly kids from the hood.. sorry boys but it doesnt matter how much money you throw at em, they’ll always be from the hood, have their crazy ass friends from the hood, and continue to do or get talked into doing stupid hood shit… may sound racist, but its completely true

  17. also i see CBC hired a set of boobs to take over the idesk.. saw that coming.. gotta put a random woman in there to keep the audience from turning gay

  18. Cherry is a link to the past and I, being a nostalgic person, am always a bit reticent to just pension the guy off. Indeed, i have really good memories of watching him as a kid when i lived in Canada and always looked forward to the intermission. But really it has to come to an end and Jake is entirely correct here. I watched Coaches Corner on Sunday (thanks Bshelf for linking it here for people outside of Canada) and I just cringed. Really, I shouldn’t have to cringe when watching a guy on TV who (whilst I disagree with his opinions) knows more about hockey than I ever will.

    He reminds me of a guy called Jimmy Hill here in England, an octogenarian guy who was quite a revolutionary in the 50′/60′s in soccer circles for a variety of reasons. Anyway, throughout the 90′s he was increasingly out of touch with the modern game, and whilst not as overtly politically incorrect as Cherry, came out with the occasional ‘gem’ about non-British players in the game and so on. Basically, in soccer terms he was left behind, and eventually the BBC (state broadcaster of the UK) paid him off. He was an iconic figure who really outlived his use in sporting terms. Nowadays Hill is looked upon fondly and wheeled out very occasionally by the BBC after being consigned to satellite TV for a few years, and Hills legacy as a pioneer is not over-shadowed by rambling on TV about the good old’ days and so on.

  19. I previously would switch games to get HNIC 1st intermission for Coach. Now its just on to 2nd for Hotstove tho Ron said it best last weekend ‘nice that you and I Elliott get to do the serious discussion’. The other heads are turning into klowns.

  20. The sad thing is a lot of the people my age (early 20′s) grew up with Don Cherry when he wasnt a completely incoherent racist, and have grow up idolizing Cherry and his opinions. Anyone who isn’t stuck on being a fan of “the symbol of Canadian hockey” is able to see past the babbling bullshit and realize Cherry no longer understands the game of hockey and should not be allowed to preach about it in front of millions of Canadians every week.

  21. dont have all the details on how the mega network CBC operates, however, as many mega broadcast corporations run their business, i believe most “commentators” are told to “stay in their lane” and state things that are very…boring. it pleases the advertisers and it pleases the producers and other folk who get paid well.
    in cherry’s defence, he was an entertainer, he does know some details of the game of professional hockey, and he does make people aware of some topics that are otherwise buried in the land of megamedia. nobody is perfect. cherry has made some mistakes. he is a tv personality and he should be regarded as that. no more, no less.

  22. Everything in this article was true in 1999. Great recycling of old arguments (a paycheck is a paycheck, amirite?). Yes, Don Cherry’s act is old and tired, and has been for a very long time. In other breaking news the North has won the American War of Secession and Hitler’s forces have been defeated in in Europe.

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