Backstage Q & A: Don Cherry


He's big on hockey and bold with fashion. Ask any Canadian hockey fan: there's only one Don Cherry.

Born in Kingston, Ont., Don Cherry spent his early days on the ice as a longtime player in professional minor hockey. In 1955, he played his one and only NHL game for the Boston Bruins, a team Cherry later went on to coach and lead to win four straight division titles.

Today, Cherry is best known for his flamboyant fashion statements and tell-it-like-it-is commentary as the face of CBC Television's Coach's Corner, an intermission segment Cherry co-hosts with sportscaster Ron Maclean as part of the popular CBC sports program Hockey Night In Canada.

We caught up with the tough-talkin' 78-year-old backstage to discuss the most important lesson he's learned over the course of his lifelong sports career and find out the story behind those oh-so-fashionable blazers that have become synonymous with his name.


Q: Over the course of your career, what's the most important lesson you've learned?

DON CHERRY (DC): Hard work. And hunger. Keeping your [hockey] team hungry is the main thing. If your team isn't hungry, if you don't have the talent, and you don't work hard, you're not going anywhere.

Q: What's your favourite pastime (next to hockey)?

DC: Going out and watching hockey with my son. He's with the OHA (the Ontario Hockey Association). He's a minor midget, so my fun is going and watching minor midget hockey.

Q: What's the story behind your famous flamboyant blazers?

When I was in Boston I got a new suit and everybody in the papers were saying: "Oh, what a beautiful suit." So I thought, "Well, if they like this suit, let's get a plaid." So I got plaid. It then got to a point where people were tuning in to see what I was wearing, not what I was coaching. Then I got into television. I remember they all wore blue jackets. I said, "I don't have to wear one of those jackets." So I got into the plaid and everything else. Now I go out and get drapery and everything. I think the kids get a big kick out of it too.

Q: What's your number one fashion tip?

DC: I don't recommend anyone to wear what I'm wearing, especially the shirts. They're very uncomfortable. As my Dad told me one time: it's better to look good then feel good. You have to feel uncomfortable. I go back to 1936 - the way [people] dressed back then. I thought they were the sharpest dressers of all.

Q: Do you have a favourite recipe?

DC: I have no idea how to cook. To tell you the truth, if I had to eat I'd probably just be eating out of cans. My wife cooks great for me. I'm a meat and potatoes guy. Sometimes salad.

Q: What is your life motto?

DC: Give it all you got all the time and don't back down. That was my Dad's motto and that's what I've tried to speak to.

Brought to you by

Zostavax Dairy Farmers of Canada Value Village

Also on CBC