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An American Hockey Writer's Thoughts on Don Cherry...Yours? Tues Buzz

November 12, 2019, 11:25 AM ET [493 Comments]
You may not know this, but I have a policy with my writers to not write about politics on Hockeybuzz.

We live in a crazy world right now, and there are plenty of places online to make your opinion known. I am frankly bored of the fighting in America. I have strong opinions regarding what is happening in America right now. You may have different opinions. We can learn from each other.

I take great pride that Hockeybuzz is a place where no matter what side of what aisle you sit on we all sit together to talk JUST about hockey. Sports are an escape from reality. This place is a place where you can come for a minute and NOT talk politics. I want hockeybuzz to be an escape...Unfortunately, the context of what happened with Don Cherry makes this a hockey story and therefore I will address it...and then get back to the rumors and charts I have been focused on...

I have a Canadian Sat Dish and spent a lot of time yesterday watching Canadian TV and how the various reporters addressed this. I thought Tim and Sid on Sportsnet did a phenomenal job. So much so that DVR'd it and showed it to my wife and kids as an example of all that is right with Canada.

Even though I have a policy to keep this site to hockey talk ONLY, Don Cherry, at 85, obviously did not see any reason to share the same policy on Coach's Corner. Coach's Corner is legendary. I have covered many Cup Final games over the years in the press box. When you are in the press box between periods many reporters, scouts, GMs, and others will leave their seats and gather in a common area to grab a snack and shoot the breeze with each other. There is always a big TV in that area..with the sound down...showing the Broadcast from either CBC or NBC. I have been in several situations where, when Coach's Corner begins, someone will look around to get the sound turned up and all talking will cease as we all listen to Don and Ron. I have heard Cherry say all kinds of controversial things about players, nationalities of players, why only Canadians can play this sport the right way, etc. And I have heard the very same reporters who are tearing him apart today laughing in delight with a "I can't believe he said that" undertone.

Many today are saying, Don Cherry has finally gone too far. And I agree that the words "You people," even when said by an 85-year-old legend who probably feels he is too old for filters, is completely and utterly wrong. But did he go too far or did he just cross a line? I would argue saying things like "no team will ever win a Stanley Cup with a European captain" is every bit as xenophobic...but said in the context of sports, at the time it was said, it drew laughs. The world may be moving towards tolerance and acceptance but sports really isn't moving at all. How many openly gay athletes do we have in the NHL? Do you really believe there are no gay players in the NHL? In sports on talk radio, or online, even on the ice..much of what is completely wrong to say publicly is STILL considered trash talking and in good fun. That used to be "Don being Don" and poor Ron MacLean would often try and somehow diminish Cherry's craziness with the kind of uncomfortable laugh and quick quip many will recognize they themselves have used when an elderly relative says something uncomfortably wrong at the Thanksgiving Dinner table...

I am an American and my country is bitterly and disgustedly divided right now. On issues like immigration, health care and climate change people I know, good people, forget their logic and simply pull on a Republican or Democratic jersey... No matter what "team" you are for, the divisiveness is awful and Canada knows this is happening down here. They have CNN and Fox News on their cable TV lineups too and like a train wreck it's hard to look away.... Also, when it comes to immigration, health care, and climate change the heads of state of the United States and Canada are pretty much on exact opposite sides in every way on every issue.. Canada continues to believe strongly in embracing immigrants and when you walk around Toronto or Vancouver you truly see a melting pot with well-dressed business people of all nationalities working side-by-side and making huge contributions.

Cherry has said crazy stuff before, but what Cherry said Saturday night was NOT sports trash talk. What Cherry did here made Canadians feel like they weren't watching CBC, but rather coverage they'd see on an American news networks. And beyond their common sense of decency looking like America on immigration is an implication Canadians couldn't stomach. MacLean knew it and apologized. Cherry did not...losing track of what many Canadians hold dear.

What Cherry said was bad, but some are arguing "Was it really 'firing bad'?"

A good friend summed it up this way...."When we coach our kids in hockey we tell them that while not every trip or hook is a penalty, every time you do something like that you leave it up to the referee and you force him to have to call it or not call it. You can complain about bad calls, but if you don't put the referee in that position you aren't going to get sent to the box."

Don Cherry put Sportsnet into the position where they had to make a call. And as we have seen from watching plenty of hockey, a penalty with 5 minutes left in the first period isn't always called in a 3-3 game with 4 minutes to go. Refs hate to admit it, but they are human. Context matters on judgement calls . Context and the history of the player involved matters. It all plays into a refs decision to raise his arm.

The current state of things in North America and Cherry's rep made the two words "You People" turn a nationalistic plea to buy poppies and support vets into a mess which the "Referee" aka Sportsnet was forced to make a call. It really was a matter of all factors...

For my part, I believe Sportsnet made the right call. On this continent, with the exception of our indigenous peoples, immigrants are a part of us all. At one point the majority of us in North America had a relative in the distant past who came here and was looked down upon for wanting a better life for their family by those afraid they would crowd the job market. My dad was military, so yes I support the fact that so many brave men and women fought, and are still out there fighting, for all that makes America and Canada great....and a big part of that greatness and uniqueness is to be a place of hope for anyone in need or willing to come here, work hard, and contribute to the story.

But you may not think so. And that is OK. All opinions are allowed in Canada and the US. I would love to hear what you have to say about this. I only ask this..please be respectful. Focus on why you believe what you believe and make that point. Don't tell me why the other side is wrong. That's too easy. Tell me why you think your opinion makes sense.

Thanks for reading.

Back with rumors...I promise!

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