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Profiling 10 Legends of the NHL


Don Cherry Image

Don Cherry ("Grapes")

DOB: May 02, 1934
Birthplace: Kingston, ON
Coaches Corner debut: 1980
   
Hall of Fame induction: if applicable
 
 

--- Don Cherry ---
  • OK, Don Cherry only actually played one game in the NHL but as a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada with his special feature of Coaches Corner he has become a Canadian hockey icon.
  • As a player, Cherry played his junior hockey with the Windsor Spitfires celebrating one Memorial Cup championship with the team. He was then called up to the big leagues to play in one NHL game, a playoff game with the Boston Bruins against Montreal Canadiens in 1955. After that Cherry spent 16 years paying his dues playing defense in the Eastern League, Western League, American League and in Ontario hockey leagues.
  • After retiring as a player, Cherry took on various jobs such as working construction and as a Cadillac car saleman.
  • Cherry came back to the game he couldnt let go of as a coach in the American League for the Rochester Americans in 1971, where he was voted Rookie Coach of the Year and then Coach of the Year in 1972.
  • Cherry then took the head coach position for Boston Bruins in 1974 where he lead the team to 4 consecutive first place finishes in their division. Don built the Bruins into a tough physical team dubbed "the Lunchpail Gang" This rough and tough style of played worked especially well against the Philidelphia Flyers, helping the Bruins to twice defeat the "Broadstreet Bullies" in playoff action. .Cherry was named NHL coach of the year in 1975/76.
  • Was assistant coach of Team Canada in 1975/76.
  • Cherry led Boston twice to the Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens in 1977 and 1978 , and then met again in the 1979 semi-finals where while up by a goal, the Bruins took a deadly "too many men on the ice" penalty with less than two minutes remaining in game 7. Montreal capitalized on the power play tying the game then went on to score the game winner, costing the Bruins a shot at the championship and Cherry who already had a rocky relationship with Bruins GM Harry Sinden, his job.
  • Cherry then took an ill-fated position with the Colorado Rockies, who just didnt have enough talent to be competitive in the NHL. Cherry became the fall guy and after one season was fired.
  • In 1980 Cherry's fortune would change as he joined Dave Hodge and the crew on Hockey Night in Canada, introducing his now infamous "Coaches Corner" segment. For over a quarter century now, Cherry has been educating, entertaining and on quite a few occassions enraging viewers during the intermission of Hockey Night in Canada with his straight shooting, tell it like it is style. Often criticized for his commentaries on European hockey and European players Cherry sticks to his guns (OK, I guess a couple times Dons stepped over the line and after realizing he may have went to far, has apologized) but has remained true to his views and certainly doesn't back down when called on them. The dynamic duo of Don Cherry and co-host (sometimes setup guy) Ron MacLean have kept many hockey fans glued to the screen during intermission in anticipation of what controversial game analysis this edition will bring.
  • One of Cherrys biggest pet peeves is players showboating. If a player is to be caught showboating after scoring a goal in the NHL these days you can bet that Grapes will have a little something to say about it in Coaches Corner. That will quite often be followed up by demonstrating how a class act reacts to scoring big goals with a quiet little celebration amongst his teammates.
  • Over and above his commentaries on the NHL, Cherry makes it a point to bring awareness to the game of junior hockey. Promoting the players and teams, he brings attention to whats happening in the juniors and also points out the flaws in the system and attempts to rally the troops to bring about the changes required to keep Canada in the forefront of our national past time.
  • Cherry is also a big advocate of making changes to the game to keep it safe for the kids, again bringing awareness to the dangers in the game such as hitting from behind and wearing proper hockey gear. Although his views may be different when it comes to the NHL, when it comes to the kids Cherry makes it clear that keeping the game fun and safe is most important.
  • One of Cherry's most appreciated attributes in a hockey player is "Grit" and he makes a special effort of pointing out examples of grit in the game. One of Cherrys all-time favorite NHLers, fellow Kingston native Doug "Dougie" Gilmour is a prime example of this characteristic. Other Cherry favorites to demonstrate this quality include Steve Yzerman, Guy Lafleur and Cherry's alltime fave, #4 Bobby Orr..
  • Has a series of "Rock'em, Sock'em" videoes featuring some of the greatest fights and hits in the game.
  • Is the most styling commentator in sports, bar none!
  • In October 2004, Cherry was selected as one 10 finalists as "The greatest Canadian" as part of a program conducted by CBC where viewers voted on the greatest Canadian. Don Cherry finished in 7th place. Not to bad for a good old Canadian boy from Kingston eh!?
  • Has a radio program on the Fan Sports network.
  • "Blue" Don Cherry's beloved Bull Terrier, was a gift from his former players on the Boston Bruins. Blue went on to become a famous face on Hockey Night in Canadas intro to coaches corner.
  • For many years Cherry has been very actively involved in many charities, with the closest to his heart being the Rose Cherry's Home for kids, in which the funds go into a hospice for terminally ill kids. Don started the charity in honour of his late wife Rose Cherry, who died of cancer in June 1997. Cherry and Rose had been together since 1954, Don still wears a rose on his lapel in memory of Rose.

Don Cherry with Blue

 

NHL Coaching Career Stats

(regular season)
Games Won Lost Points
480 250 153 77
(playoffs)
Games Won Lost Tied
55 31 24 0

 

NHL Teams Coached

Boston Bruins
Colorado Rockies

Don Cherry with Ron MacLean

Trophy Collection

Jack Adams Award