Kinder, gentler Cherry addresses ex-NHL enforcers
Says he regrets calling Grimson, Nilan, Thomson 'pukes' for speaking out against fighting
A more calm Don Cherry took to the airwaves Saturday, two nights after calling three former NHL enforcers "pukes" and targeting league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for setting the bar "too high" for suspensions.
The Hockey Night in Canada personality expressed some regret on his Coach’s Corner segment after criticizing ex-players Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson for speaking out against fighting in the sport, calling them "hypocrites."
Asked by co-host Ron MacLean whether he had regrets about Thursday’s Coach’s Corner segment, Cherry said: "No, no —maybe one, with the puke stuff and kids listening [to that]. That’s rude and I shouldn’t say it."
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But he did make one thing clear.
"I’m still going to talk about fighting. It’s a tough job, don’t get me wrong," said Cherry. "It’s a tough sport, but I would not have a mad dog sitting on the bench [to] only get on [the ice] for two minutes.
"I did that for a whole one time and it was the most embarrassing thing: Your family there watching and you’re sittin’ there, and the guy [coach] taps you on the shoulder and away you go."
Cherry probably was referring to a pre-season game in late September when Toronto forward Darryl Boyce made a play for the puck behind the Philadelphia net and broke his nose when he was driven into the boards from behind by Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley.
Cherry said Shanahan, the NHL’s vice-president of safety, set a precedent when he suspended Shelley for five pre-season games and another five in the regular season.
Shelley had the least amount of ice time for both teams that Sept. 21 evening at six minutes 27 seconds and was assessed 22 minutes in penalties. Last season, he had four points in 58 regular-season contests while skating an average of 6:10 per game.
"I had four 20-goal scorers who were my tough guys and that’s the way to do it," said Cherry, referring to his coaching days in the minors and NHL.
The CBC issued a statement on Saturday saying it does not agree with the views Cherry expressed on Thursday’s HNIC broadcast.
Kirstine Stewart, the CBC’s executive vice-president of English services, said Cherry’s comments reflect his own opinion.
"While we support his right to voice that opinion, we do not share his position," Stewart said in a statement.