NHL

'Every Saturday, I'm excited:' Don Cherry says he'll be back on Coach's Corner next season

Don Cherry is staying put as the colourful host of Coach's Corner on Hockey Night in Canada, saying he was told by his bosses shortly after the end to the Stanley Cup playoffs he'd return next season.

85-year-old irked Hurricanes, fans last season after calling team 'a bunch of jerks'

Don Cherry, right, will remain on Hockey Night in Canada as host of Coach's Corner alongside Ron MacLean, left, to start next season. (Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Don Cherry says he isn't moving on from Coach's Corner just yet.

On Saturday, Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons wrote Cherry's return next season hadn't been confirmed. The colourful and often outspoken Cherry immediately took to social media to state he was told by his bosses at Sportsnet that he'd be returning next season.

Cherry emphatically reiterated in a telephone interview Monday that he's not ready to retire from Coach's Corner.

"Especially when [Sportsnet bosses] say they're very happy and can hardly wait for next year," Cherry said. "When the bosses say that to you, it makes you feel good."

A Sportsnet spokesperson declined comment in an email.

Simmons briefly speculated on Cherry's future in his column, writing: "Rogers is cutting all over the place, which included the removal of Bob McCown on radio and television and Doug MacLean doing the same. Cherry is handsomely compensated for his work. Not sure if this is a place they want to go with the 85-year-old."

Popular with fans

Cherry said he was "hurt and disappointed" that Simmons didn't contact him.

"Had he called, I could've told him right off the bat," Cherry said.

At my age I don't really have to do it but I always look forward to it.— Don Cherry, 85, on hosting Coach's Corner

"I was told during the playoffs, 'Well, we're looking forward Don to next year,' by the three bosses. They were happy with Coach's Corner and the whole deal and all of a sudden [Simmons] writes this, which was very disappointing. He's got my number, he could've phoned and I would've told him that, it was no problem at all."

Cherry — affectionately dubbed Grapes — has appeared on Coach's Corner with long-time sidekick Ron MacLean since 1986. He has become popular with fans and a Canadian icon for his eccentric suits, high collars and often candid, pointed opinions on all things hockey.

Sharp as a tack

Even after 30-plus years of speaking his mind to hockey fans, Cherry said he looks forward to each and every segment of Coach's Corner.

"Once I'm not excited and I'm not having fun, then why do it?" he said. "At my age I don't really have to do it but I always look forward to it.

"Every Saturday, I'm excited."

While the native of Kingston, Ont., remains sharp as a tack, he has also ruffled a lot of feathers with his sharp tongue and penchant for not mincing words.

The former Boston Bruins and Colorado Rockies head coach became the bane of the Carolina Hurricanes and their fans last season when he called the team "a bunch of jerks." It was in response to the players doing their "Storm Surge" celebrations at centre ice when they raised their sticks to salute their supporters following home victories.

'The one thing I know about is hockey'

The Hurricanes embraced Cherry's criticism by selling "Bunch of Jerks" T-shirts.

Cherry, a career minor-league defenceman who played on four Calder Cup (AHL) championship teams, remains active outside of the studio. He can be seen in hockey arenas during the winter as the attends two or three games weekly with his son, Tim, who is an OHL scout.

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"I'm right into it," Cherry said. "The one thing I know about is hockey."

Cherry said when he decides to retire, there will be little doubt regarding his intentions. However, he adds, that time simply isn't now.

"I'm excited [about next season]," he said.

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