For better or worse, one of Canada's most
vulgar visible icons, is hockey lover Don Cherry. As most of us know, he is the long-time co-host of CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada", and known as much for his humongous mouth as for wearing outfits that can be used as test patterns. He's gotten into hot water over the years for racist and homophobic remarks, as well as emceeing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's inauguration with a vow to stomp out "left-wing pinkos" (ie. anyone with a brain and basic manners). A full list of his controversies can be found here.
Anyway, he's gotten into some shit again, for going after some recently retired NHL players who -- like many others -- have said that fighting in hockey should be abolished. Specifically, when former enforcers Chris Nilan, Jim Thomson and Stu Grimson spoke out against the increasingly violent turn in Canada's national sport... he called them "pukes", "hypocrites" and "turncoats".
Now leaving aside that I never understood why a game whose object is to shoot a piece of rubber into a net, needs regular brawls, this was the most stupid and callous thing that Cherry could have ever said. In the last couple of years we've seen more and more incidents of truly good players (including national hero Sidney Crosby) being sidelined -- potentially for good -- by repeated and vicious blows to the head, often coming totally out of nowhere, and with enough force that without helmets they would probably have been killed instantly. The carnage has gotten so out of hand that this past summer saw no less than three NHL enforcers die in their twenties, two by their own hands.
Simply put, not only is the game getting a lot rougher than it ever should have been, but it is literally ruining -- and ending -- lives that have barely even started. And for pointing out the obvious -- that this cannot and should not go on -- one of Canada's leading voices in hockey is dragging through the mud, people who've actually been in the trenches. That's akin to calling a World War II veteran a traitor, if he says that war is often an exercise in getting a lot of people killed for stupid reasons.
And before anyone counters this by pointing out that Cherry used to play and coach hockey himself, SPARE ME. The last time he ever put on a pair of skates was in 1972, and the last time he coached was sometime in the eighties. If hockey's gotten a lot meaner in the last two or three years, then it's DEFINITELY gotten meaner in the last thirty as well. Simply put, the guy's hands-on experience with the game, is severely out of date.
Finally... if he's going to slam people who actually get paid to smash people's brains in, for having a change of heart, what exactly does Cherry propose to do instead? If he loves turning hockey into gladitorial combat, then let's see him get on the ice himself, putting his life on the line for a glorified game of ping pong. Considering that he's 77 years old, and clearly not in peak shape anymore, it would be interesting to see how well he can take these sort of hits. He could even put it on his next "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em" video... if he has the intestinal fortitude.