Oh, that Don Cherry. It took him all but 20 minutes into the hockey season to get people all riled up. That's not a reference to his Christmas-party Red Green plaid outfit last night.
While sporting the hideous color combination, Grapes went on a rant during Hockey Night in Canada's Coach's Corner segment about the new hitting rules in hockey and took some shots at former fighters like Chris Nilan and Stu Grimson, who he called "turncoats and hypocrites" and "pukes." You can read the whole thing (and see Cherry's outfit) here.
Well neither Grimson nor Nilan were very appreciative. Both took to their defenses, principally stating they never advocated the removal of fighting. First, here was Grimson, who seemingly created a Twitter account just to post this, his first tweet:
Maybe Don forgot ol' Stu is a laywer these days.
Nilan also took to defending himself while also reitterating he has no desire to see fighting removed from the game. In an interview with Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto, Nilan got a bit off his chest in regards to Cherry and fighting.
I was very angry considering I never had any problem with Don Cherry. ... I've always been friends with Don Cherry.
If I have an opinion on something and he doesn't agree with it, to call me a hypocrite and a puke, that's totally uncalled for. I could see if he had an opinion about me and I said the things he insinuated I said ... now at no time have I ever said alcohol and drug addiction is linked to fighting. You won't see it in print. You won't see it on any radio interview I've ever done. You won't see it on any TV interview I've ever done.
As far as a puke for saying I didn't want fighting in the National Hockey League, I never said that. I'll clarify my statemes I made about fighting once again. I believe, they are in a temperance movement. They really don't like fighting and I believe they don't want it in the game. I've said if they don't want it in the game, why don't they just take it out? I never said I wanted it out, I never said I'm against fighting. I said if they're that much against it, if they put the instigator rule, if they put linesmen who get in and try and break up before they start. The linesmen do that because they feel like getting punched in the head today? Or do they do it because the league asked them to because they don't want to see it on TV?
Now if the league does take it out and they realize it effects their bottom line, which is dollars and cents, then how, in God's name, do they put it back in? I never said I don't want fighting in the game. I've always said there is nothing wrong with two guys dropping their gloves and going at it.
Now, do I believe there is something wrong when a guy calls the guy a week before a game and says 'Hey, we're gonna go next Tuesday night?' I think that's total bull[bleep] and it's foolishness. Do I believe a spontaneous fight that happens after an incident in a game where, either one of your players is attacked by someone, or given a cheap shot by someone, or you yourself receive a cheap shot, or someone calls you out for a fight? Do I think there's anything wrong with that? I don't think there's anything wrong with that whatsoever. It's within the rules of the game. I don't think they should take fighting out and I never said it. So what he said about me last night caught me totally of guard and honestly I feel he owes me an apology next on Hockey Night in Canada in Coach's Corner.
Then he was asked by the hosts if he regrets his career as a fighter and enforcer.
Never. Never. I suffer from the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. I never once blamed it on my hockey career. Yes, I had injuries where I ended up having surgeries after my career, more than a few. I did take pain medication that helped get through the pain that I still suffer from on a daily basis. I don't whine about and so, 'Oh, it's because of hockey.' No, I got addicted innocently enough, I took pain killers and I had a problem. I've taken care of it. The National Hockey League helped me and backed me. I take care of that problem every day, on a daily basis. I have never, ever made any statements he alludes to.
This is something hockey fans just can't agree on right now. According to a poll we had on the site over the summer, an overwhelming majority want fighting to stay, and right now it's not endangered. But some are supportive of Cherry's point of view on hitting, others think he's dead wrong. While it gets frustrating, I think this is a great discussion to be having. As long as the dialogue continues, hopefully the desired end can be reached: a game still with hitting and fighting but sans head-shots. Most agree on the destination, but few can agree on which roads to take.
I don't begrudge Cherry's right to share his point of view whatsoever. Hey, CBC gives the man airtime to do just that. He just might want to think a little bit longer before next week's edition of Coach's Corner.
While he's at it, he should rethink that outfit. I don't mind many of his crazy color schemes, but that was just rough on the eyes.