October 15, 2011
The moment the words "hypocrite", "pukes" and "turncoats" left the lips of Don Cherry during the opening "Coach's Corner" of the 2011-12 NHL season on Oct. 6, a firestorm erupted.
Cherry, as you'll recall, called former tough guys Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson "turncoats" from what Grapes believed at the time were comments by the trio saying that fighting should be out of the game and that the deaths of Derek Boogaard(notes), Rick Rypien(notes) and Wade Belak(notes) this summer were linked to alcohol and drugs.
The following morning the trio made the radio and television circuit defending themselves and citing Cherry's uninformed rant about them. Nilan called for a public apology, while Grimson -- who practices law in Tennessee -- released a statement days later threatening "further recourse" against Cherry, a sign that a lawsuit was potentially in the works. CBC's executive vice president of English services, Kirstine Stewart, issued a statement distancing the network from Cherry's comments.
On Saturday night during "Coach's Corner", Cherry finally gave in and delivered a public apology to Grimson, Nilan and Thomson:
"I gotta admit, I was wrong on a lot of things."
Did you ever think you'd hear Cherry utter that sentence?
Cherry, as stubborn an Irishman as they come, didn't back down in the immediate aftermath of the controversy only saying that he regretted using the word "pukes" in reference to the three.
Of course, in the week and a half since he uttered those comments, the combination of Grimson threatening "further recourse" and someone whispering in Grapes' ears that he was, in fact, wrong in what he said helped him swallow his pride and admit his fault.
Photo credit: Getty Images