Don Cherry’s 80th birthday will be celebrated … in Russia

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Don Cherry in pink, oh.

Don Cherry birthday

Don Cherry in pink, oh.

Quick, what’s the most widely recognizable cliché about Don Cherry, the venerable “Hockey Night in Canada” commentator?

Besides the suit jackets, we mean?

Xenophobia, of course! Going after European players – and especially Russians – as soft or passive or poor leaders or soft, passive poor leaders. And that’s not even mentioning his occasional critiques of pinko commie leftists.

Which is why it’s rather amusing that Cherry is scheduled to celebrate a lifetime milestone, his 80th birthday, in the air on the way to the Sochi Olympics.

Yes, it’s been a strange relationship between Cherry and Russia. From the Toronto Sun:

Of course, the most famous rant about Russian hockey came on Jan. 4, 1987, after Canada’s junior team lost the gold medal thanks to a brawl. Cherry staunchly defended the Canadian kids by saying the then-Soviets started the whole thing.

“I never said a Russian is dumb. They are not dumb,” Cherry said in an interview, adding the Russians “had nothing to lose” because their coach ordered his players to provoke Canada into a fight to avoid being “sent to Siberia” to survive on “bread and water.”

It has been such a long love affair between Cherry and the Russians. Now they are going to be together on the same patch of land as Cherry will be at the Sochi Olympics as part of the CBC crew covering the much-anticipated hockey tournament.

For the record, Cherry supporter and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told the Sun he supports the idea of Cherry wearing a pink suit to Russia. We’ll assume that’s a reference to “pinkos” and not a suggested protest of recently passed Russian laws.

So there you go: Don Cherry’s birthday in Russia. We’ll assume the party won’t be held in the corners, because no one but Cherry would show up, according to Grapes...

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