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BHN Puck Links: Is Hockey Really Better Off Without Don Cherry



Clearly Don Cherry is a polarizing figure within the hockey world.

Grapes is opinionated, bombastic and stubborn when it comes to what he believes in,  but he’s also gregarious, generous and undeniably entertaining, which is what had kept him on television for much of the last 30 plus years. The 86-year-old Cherry has been off the air for roughly a year now and Hockey News columnist Ken Campbell says the hockey world is better off for it.

In some ways Campbell is undeniably right.

Cherry was from a different, older generation and was accused of being “divisive” and “xenophobic” while often blending politics, military service and hockey during his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada. That’s a nearly impossible balancing act. In a world that’s as diverse as it’s ever been and within an NHL where they proudly claim “Hockey Is For Everyone”, Cherry seemed like the grandpa at the holidays saying things that sometimes made everybody else cringe and roll their eyes.

Even worse it made large groups of players, media, coaches, executives and fans alike uncomfortable, with minorities within the hockey world feeling like it was the same old prejudice they’ve encountered in their own personal experiences. So clearly there was a price to be paid when Cherry went on an inappropriate rant about immigrants not wearing poppies while saying “you people that come here…you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey…these guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.”

And Cherry paid for it with his livelihood and platform on Hockey Night in Canada. All things being equal at his age, Cherry might have even opted for retirement in the wake of COVID-19 anyway had he still been doing Coach’s Corner last season.

Sure, ex-player Kevin Bieksa and longtime executive Brian Burke have stepped in to provide personality and a little good, old-fashioned bluster for the Canadian hockey viewers. But let’s be honest, Hockey Night in Canada isn’t the same without Coach’s Corner and Don Cherry. This humble hockey writer used to watch every Saturday for Cherry and Ron MacLean, and every NHL press box in Canada would huddle around the television between the first and second period to hear what Grapes had to say.

That’s not the case anymore and there’s a sense of loss in that.

Cherry was a unique throwback to a different era that spoke to large swaths of hockey fans and brought unflinching candor to many things (the brutality of the sport, the willingness to call out players or coaches in a league that increasingly shies away from real criticism) that attracted people to hockey in the first place.

Was it the right thing that Cherry was banished after his reckless, hurtful comments? Probably. But the hockey world is a lot more boring in Cherry’s absence and there should be some acknowledgement of that as well. There are plenty of ways in which the hockey world is not a better place at all without Don Cherry. It’s just a lot more boring and plainer, in point of fact.



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Now on to the puck links:

*Speaking of Hockey Night in Canada, they apparently missed out on having Alex Trebek as a part of it because he had a mustache. Can you believe that? (Hockey News)

*The Boston Bruins have moved on from Tuukka Rask leaving the playoff bubble last summer. Is that the right move for their future? (NBC Sports)

*Apparently former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Roman Cechmanek is facing up to 10 years in prison. (Broad Street Hockey)

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman has the latest on what the NHL could look like when it finally resumes in January.

*Cool story about hockey people coming together to keep the University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey program going, including a $17 million boost led by NHL goalie Cam Talbot. (NBC Sports)

*What do the Toronto Maple Leafs need to do to become Stanley Cup champions? It’s pretty simple and it’s about paying attention to defense. Maybe a little more maturity from some of their young star players as well. (Leafs Nation)

*Is Erik Karlsson still elite? The jury is definitely out on that one. (San Jose Hockey Now)

*For something completely different: An interesting case here for fixing social media being in the best interest of national security. (The New Yorker)

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston,, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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Raymond Rainville

I don’t care who he backed


Cherry is a real Canadian and an icon He cared about police and armed forces more then anyone and we all know that these So called Necomers have no respect for law our our military Canadians have died so these newcomers can come to a great nation like Canada or USA and live in peace , seems the left wants the newcomers to be able to push their ways on us and we must accept their GARBAGE like Sharia law or marrying you’re COUSINS or having kids with half dozen sisters in the ” Hood ” and leaving them for… Read more »


So it’s okay to be racist as long as you’re entertaining?


Suck eggs geek

George higgins

Could not care less about this person……..good riddance….


Cherry is missed. The first rule of ratings in successful talk sports radio or tv is entertainment, conflict of opinion and knowledge. Cherry was audacious and too patriotic.. His “You people” remark regarding non-poppy wearers on Remembrance Day was a phony excuse for SportsNet to wiggle out of a $750,000 contract using the race card.

Jay Hamlet

“Grapes” or perhaps “Sour Grapes.” Cherry was like hockey’s “Archie Bunker,” but with an array of flashy suits. Sure, he was colorful, candid and controversial; and that makes sizzle and viewers. But it also meant a man without a filter – and who was too quick to toss those unlike him “under the bus.” Hockey, like society at its best, is becoming more egalitarian, tolerant and civil. Don Cherry just wasn’t able or willing to regularly go there. Adieu, Prickly Prince.

jim winters

i quit watching … don tied all the parts of the saturday broadcast together for me … i didn’t agree with 100 % of his opinions… without him, ron McLean is just another controlled mouth spewing propaganda

Dapper Shinty

Yes, Don Cherry loves his country, disparages other countries… however, this is NOT racist behavior… I’m of Swedish descent, and so I sometimes rightly found Cherry to be a moron. Yet I’m mature enough to see that Don never said one race is better than another, nor endorsed slavery… he was only vocal about loving Canada in his own peculiar way. Banning Cherry was a cowardly, despicable hack move, a convenient moral high horse for those who lack real courage, lack intelligence, and lack a true moral compass. Sometimes Don was entertaining, but Cherry’s critics (who are not fit to… Read more »

[…] Haggerty of Boston Hockey Now offers another […]


This year Whole Foods in Canada told employees they could not. COULD NOT. wear poppies. Yes, clearly Cherry had no idea what he was talking about (eye roll). I raise a beer to Mr Cherry! One of the best Canadians to ever live and ten times the man of our black face prime minister!

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