Who in the NHL hockey world doesn’t know Don “Grapes” Cherry by now? The 77 year old former player and former NHL coach has been telling his side of things on thousands of hockey related topics on Hockey Night in Canada since the early 80’s. Controversial and well known for his loud suits and even louder mouth, he’s not afraid to speak his mind even if he knows that he’ll ruffle some feathers.
In his most recent Coach’s Corner on CBC this past Thursday, Cherry went on a rant against Brendan Shanahan for his severe suspensions, saying that by doing so, he will take hitting out of hockey as that he’s giving the players excuses not to hit. Further, he blasted those, including the media, who took advantage on the fact that 3 enforcers passed away this summer to run an anti-fighting campaign. He pushed the issue further again by calling former fighters Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson “pukes” and “hypocrites” for, according to Cherry, implying that their substance and alcohol abuse on the fact that they were fighters. To his credit, Cherry did do some research on past suicide.
See for yourself:
Nilan, on his Twitter, requested a public apology from Cherry. Grapes’ response on Sportsnet radio? Tough luck. He did however say that he shouldn’t have called them “pukes” on TV, but remained firm on his stance that the only reason why they made such a good living is because of the fact that there were fights in the NHL and pointed out that those 3 are trying to prevent others to do the same. Here’s the audio and video:
I will say this: While not a big fan of Cherry, I am 100% behind him on this whole story. The media knows that he’s right. The people he pointed the finger at also know it.
In my last blog, I actually question Shanahan when he chose to not suspend Ryan Malone and wondered if the players do know exactly what his message actually is. I do agree that the hits will be fewer and further between because when in doubt, players won’t want to risk a suspension that will see them lose thousands of dollars.
As for fighting, Grapes hit the nail right smash on the head! When talking on Sportsnet, he and Nick Kypreos made reference to the fastest growing sport in the world, the MMA. I strongly suggest you listen to that part of the conversation as they make such good points that the opponents don’t want to talk about it! Cherry is right! The media is jumping on a bandwagon campaign and report what’s on THEIR personal agenda! Think about it… why so many current and former NHL’ers are pro-fighting and why don’t their comments publicized?
Fact remains that fighting is part of NHL hockey and while the sport has evolved, some people are trying too hard to control everything off the ice by making stupid rules (instigator) and implementing longer suspensions, and now the talk about eliminating fighting. But what they’re truly doing instead is creating some major collateral damage by putting more weapons in the hands of cheap shot artists who don’t need to answer to anyone about their actions. Then they’ll try to come with even more stupid rules and the wheels on the bus go round and round…
I don’t like where the NHL is heading and truthfully, I don’t know what we can do to stop them. But one thing is certain: it starts at the leadership level and Bettman doesn’t know enough about the game itself to do anything about it.