He’s one of the most polarizing figures in sports. You either love him or you hate him. There is no middle ground when discussing Don Cherry.
On his blog this week at CBC.ca, Mike Milbury opined his endorsement for Cherry’s enshrinement into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Any talk of the man behind Coach’s Corner being honored would come through the builder’s category, as Cherry, who had a long minor league career, only played one game in the National Hockey League: one playoff game with the Boston Bruins in 1955.
In his letter of support, Milbury indirectly compares Cherry to famous radio shock jock Howard Stern in that as much as he’s despised, people want to hear what “Grapes” has to say next (along with how ridiculous of a suit he’s sporting):
"Can anyone deny that the man has driven interest in the sport to the extent that he stops Canada in its tracks every Saturday night on Coach's Corner?
Wherever people gather, they stop and listen with reverence, derision, laughter and amazement when the Coach steps to his bloody pulpit.
Does he butcher the odd name? Of course. And to our delight. Has he offended a few nationalities? You betcha. And many of us snicker at the thought of it. He has cajoled, infuriated, taunted and challenged many in the hockey universe. And we can't get enough of him."
Known for his love of all things Canadian and making Ron McLean uneasy on a number of occasion, Cherry’s outspoken commentary over the years has stirred controversy and debate and eventually caused CBC to put him on a seven second delay. While Cherry is big on physical, tough hockey, he seemed to bond well with former Kids in the Hall cast member, Scott Thompson during a television interview in 1992. Surprisingly, Cherry did not take on the role of Mr. Tyzik (a.k.a. the Headcrusher) from one of the more memorable skits.
Nevertheless, he’s a dominating personality who, arguably, has done more to promote the game of hockey, from youth to professional, than those involved at the game from every level. So here comes the question:
Pass or Fail: Don Cherry should be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame?