THUNDER BAY – The National Hockey League season is underway. It is that amazing time on the year when Toronto Maple Leaf fans are all excited, their team isn’t out of the playoffs, yet. It is a time when hope in Winnipeg that the Winnipeg Jets will make the playoffs. It is also the time when Don Cherry takes to the airwaves on Hockey Night in Canada.
“Grapes” is outspoken, and has become an icon on the CBC. It is his outspoken, unabashed style that has make Coaches Corner on Hockey Night in Canada a key part of the show. It has also put the former player in the AHL and former NHL coach into hot water.
Cherry’s comments this week on fighting have lit another typical Cherry firestorm.
Cherry’s comments come toward the end of the Coach’s Corner. He calls former NHL players who were enforcers, “pukes” and “hypocrites” for coming out now opposing fighting and hitting in the NHL.
Kirstine Stewart, CBC’s Executive Vice-President of English Services says, “Recent comments made by Don Cherry on HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA’S Coach’s Corner regarding headshots and fighting in professional hockey have been the subject of considerable debate. I wish to clarify, in no uncertain terms, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s position on this issue.
Don’s comments reflect his own personal opinion. While we support his right to voice that opinion, we do not share his position. Player safety is a top priority for CBC, and we support the initiatives of the NHL and others in keeping players safe on and off the ice.
Yesterday, I spoke personally with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. In that conversation, as in this statement, I reiterated our shared commitment to player safety at all levels of the game.”
The CBC has not however sanctioned or apparently moved toward taking Cherry off the air.
The issue is not likely to go away anytime soon.