CBC Doesn’t Care If You Chastise Cherry, Just That You Care Enough to Watch
I’m nearly convinced that if Hockey Night In Canada didn’t feature Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry and Ron McLean, CBC would probably lose hockey broadcasting contracts to superior stations like TSN, Sportsnet, et al, and possibly fold as a network altogether.
The main reason being, if Canadians didn’t have Don Cherry’s over the top, stubborn, biased, bipolar opinions to either champion or string him up for, the public would call for the end of their tax-dollars to fund the public network.
Take his recent comments for example:
On the October 6th broadcast of HNIC’s Coach’s Corner, Cherry (who hadn’t lambasted anyone since last season) went on the offensive, saying Brendan Shanahan is bringing hitting in hockey to an end (citing Scott Stevens in particular, and questioning how many games he would be suspended for after his hits on Paul Kariya, Eric Lindros, etc), which I agree with; made a point about everyone jumping on the link between fighting in hockey and depression/suicide, mental illness, drug & alcohol addiction, etc., saying it’s not just fighters who have these problems (a recent study confirms this) and saying that everyone who’s against fighting should be ashamed of themselves; and then throws three former fighters (Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan, and Jim Thompson) under the bus after apparently quoting George Laraque (according to Ron McLean, who coincidentally has a new book out to promote), calling them pukes and turncoats for not supporting fighting in hockey.
As much heat as he got for the comments, I agree with the first two points (the end of hitting, and issues only happening to fighters). The third was where things went sideways, and those 3 players he singled out threatened legal action against Cherry for what he said about them. I’m sure I don’t need to read a Nielsen ratings report to tell that HNIC was heavily viewed and talked out the whole time.
Then on October 8th, Cherry said he only regretted saying the word “puke” while kids were watching, because it’s rude.
Then on the October 15th broadcast, Cherry decided to apologize to everyone, and the group of 3, saying some of his comments were erroneous. He also mentioned about how awesome all three of the guys are, and probably called them all beauties at some point. A bit of a turnaround from just being worried about kids hearing him say a bad word on television. The group then dropped their legal threats.
This is the same guy who makes Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em DVD’s every year, which prominently promote big hits, fights, and a little bit of hockey in between. Don’s an old-school cat, and that’s all good. But I find his stance on fighting a little odd. Cherry’s a guy that will go out of his way to stand up for fighting in hockey, and even go on TV and tell everyone how both Canadians and Americans want to see fights at hockey games, and how it’s a main part of why fans come to or watch hocke games on TV at all. But while preaching to this UFC, WWE, boxing, fighting-as-entertainment brainwashed crowd, he’s the first to send guys like Arron Asham, Tie Domi, and Donald Brashear to the gallows the minute after they mime some sort of taunt after winning a fight. So what’s the message Cherry and other hockey “traditionalists” are trying to convey to these “outlaws”, exactly? Ok toughguys, go out there, hit each other as hard as you possibly can as many times as you can, beat each other’s brains out, entertain bloodthirsty fans and make them scream and cheer, BUT DON’T YOU DARE appear to be happy with yourself afterwards if you emerge victorious. We won’t tolerate that kind of behaviour. We all know that they best way to teach a player not to take cheapshots at your star players is to go and fight the other team’s toughguy, who was completely removed from the incident you’re trying to bring justice to.
At the end of the day, here’s all that matters: the fact that you’re watching. The fact that you’re talking about Don Cherry, searching about the incident on the internet, have an opinion either way, care enough to formulate an opinion at all. All these points go to prove valuable when CBC tries to negotiate a new sponsor. If CBC (or any television station for that matter) cared about whether Don Cherry was a politically correct character fit to appear in front of a national audience, odds are he would have been fired years ago, around the time he wore earrings, put on a Conehead, or bicep-curled an octopus on TV. Don Cherry is a sideshow, not much different than Sean Avery, or Jeremy Roenick in his latter years.
The monkeys are dancing, so just enjoy the show(or hate it. Whatever you do, just don’t not watch)! Besides, I’d take Don Cherry over Pierre McGuire any day.