Friday, April 13, 2007

Don Cherry is Reason Enough to Watch The NHL

Subtlety is not Don's strongsuit (PUN!)

First, we need to speak about that delicious pun in the picture caption. That came out of nowhere and is pure genius. Strongsuit! Get it? I should write cartoon captions for the New Yorker. Anyhoo, this week it was reported that Don Cherry is going to commentate during NBC's coverage of the NFL playoffs. I grew up with Don Cherry. He was my introduction to hockey when I moved to northern New York 20 years ago and all that was on TV after 10pm was CBC's Hockey Night in Canada bringing you the Winnipeg Jets vs. the Hartford Whalers. It may not have been the most educational experience in terms of learning hockey from great players, but the coverage was great theater. Don Cherry is a Canadian icon (for a tremendous read of Cherry, check out Scott Burnside's E-ticket piece). He's like Charles Barkley, Jimmy The Greek, Beano Cook and Deion Sanders' fashion sense all wrapped into one. He's on television for about 20 minutes per game but has more impact on how you view the game than any player or announcer. He hates european players. He holds grudges against players and can be unfairly critical of those players and he is not a fan of ANY rule change that discourages rough play. For better or worse, he holds nothing back. He is abrasive, insensitive and inappropriate, but throughout all of it he comes off as immensely likable. I'm not sure people have a ton of interest in watching playoff hockey (if you don't, you are missing some fantastic action) but if you're on the fence, Don should be the tiebreaker. He is worth every second. Here are a few of his better comments:
"Cherry, asked about Winnipeg Jets assistant coach Alpo Suhonen, quipped, "Alpo? Isn't that a dog food?"

"I remember taking a look at him and saying ‘Anyone who perms his hair has got to go’. So we sent him to Fort Worth." (On Don Saleski, who he coached in Colorado)

"I've been trying to tell you people for so long about the Russians, what kind of people they are, and you just love them in Canada with your multiculturalism," he scolded. "They're quitters and evidently they take a lot of drugs, too."

“Anybody who says they don't like fighting in the NHL have to be out of their minds.”

Cherry's notorious visor commentary: "Most of the guys that wear them are Europeans and French guys."

Referring to the French translation of the Memorial Cup, Coupe Memorial, Cherry once famously quipped, "What's that? A car giveaway?" Cherry also referred to freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard, chosen as the (Canada's) flag-bearer at the 1998 Olympics, as "a French guy, some skier nobody knows about."

"In the States, they wanted me to go on one time in Pittsburgh. Jaromir Jagr, it was when he had long hair and he was with Mario Lemieux and I said, 'There's Mario and his daughter.' It didn't go over too good. That was my last time in the States."

"I consider my style that of the men of the 1930s, where men had an elegant style, tight suits, tight collars, lots of jewellery, a clean sharp image. I must admit my style has been called foppish, but I like it."
That is entertainment folks. I can't friggin wait.

No comments: