When Bobby Orr speaks, people listen, a trait that the hockey great shares in common with the esteemable Don Cherry. That's partly why Orr is of the belief that Cherry deserves a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Orr has an autobiography coming out and of the many topics discussed in Orr: My Story, one is about Cherry and his HHOF credentials. Orr spoke about it further with the Canadian Press (also seen above), giving everybody a little further insight to the man they call Grapes that goes beyond his custom outfits.
From Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press (via Brandon Sun):
"His stature within the hockey community is significant and meaningful, and his importance is as great as that of any player, past or present," Orr writes as part of an entire chapter devoted to his former coach and longtime close friend.
Cherry coached Orr for parts of two seasons with the Boston Bruins, and the two have remained close over the years. The Hall of Famer knows it's impossible for him to remain objective about Cherry but sincerely believes the "Hockey Night in Canada" personality should get his due.
"Is there anyone bigger than Don Cherry in our game today? It's incredible what this man does," Orr said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "People have no idea. They think Don's this big rough, gruff guy. He's paid to give an opinion. Like him or dislike him, when he comes on, everybody, they listen."
At this point in his career it seems that most people (note: not all) just laugh at Cherry and his antiquated ramblings every Saturday night. Still, it's hard to see a way that Orr is wrong.
There are a lot of things you can say about Cherry, one of which is certainly that the man evokes strong opinions, no matter if they are in agreement with Cherry or not. He is provacative, he's visible, he's loud. Most importantly, he's a hockey institution. He's there every Saturday on TVs all across Canada, a staple as consistent on the national network as the sport itself.
Cherry is and always has been an ambassador for the sport with every fiber of his being. He's a proud Canadian and that shines through every chance he gets. Despite the fact that he only played one NHL game in his career (he did coach in the NHL for a few seasons, though, winning the Jack Adams once), the man is synonymous with the NHL. Period.
A lot of kids, even those in the US who happen to live closer to our neighbors to the north, grew up watching Cherry on TV. He has introduced many to this great game and has always been a chief supporter. What more could you really ask for as somebody who would be in the Builders category of the Hall of Fame? Cherry has only done things to build the game and has become simply iconic, whether you feel he's a relic or not is irrelevant.
The Builders category always seems backed up in the Hall voting; everybody is still waiting for Pat Burns to earn the nod. So perhaps it will be a while before Cherry would make it into the Hall, maybe even after his career is finished. If it even happens at all. But if Bobby Orr is saying it, perhaps it will give more deserved attention to the conversation.
S/t to Yahoo for the video