Sunday, December 23, 2007

CBC Hockey Night in Canada: Coach's Corner with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean

Hockey Night in Canada's Coach's Corner, aka the Don Cherry/Ron MacLean freak show, went beyond its usual bizarre level of awfulness on Saturday.

The desperate for attention Cherry, whose ostentatious camp outfits make the most over-the-top transvestites look withdrawn and tame in comparison, threw a petulant hissy fit on-air as MacLean interrupted his defense of eight-time loser Chris Simon.

Incoherence collides with regression into sulking infancy, alternately coddled and prodded by a professional sycophant.

Add in the insulation provided by a few decades' worth of high ratings and you've got a pair of embarrassing clowns erroneously confident in the belief that they attract viewers based on something honourable, worthy of respect or representative of quality in any way.

Someone who yells, berates and becomes apoplectic at anyone who dares to hold an alternate viewpoint. Completely and totally bereft of skill in defending his opinion except for increasing the volume of his voice.

Legions of easily satisfied apologists regurgitate the same tired line whenever Don Cherry offers up another spectacle on par with public defecation: "He attracts the viewers, that's all that matters." Not surprising that such bland responses are offered up in defense of what is really a weak, wasted segment during the most watched television show in Canada.

The question is, how much better could it be and how many more people would tune in if there was real give and take by some of the clever and knowledgeable hockey media personalities working today?

The people who allow this to be aired week after week are simply demonstrating their lack of imagination. If CBC management really believes there aren't any other voices available or a different format that can be tailored to tap into one of the most consistent and captive television audiences in the country, then laziness and ignorance reigns at the nation's broadcaster.

Why exactly does Cherry remain so (apparently) popular? Regardless of his spluttering diatribes and decline in rationality, people sense that he is at least genuine in his beliefs and came to them through real experience in the world of hockey. And he wasn't always so absurd.

When he started out he was tame by comparison and actually made an attempt to present decent arguments. His opinions appealed to the young male demographic (and likely still do.)

He praised the kind of toughness that most kids aspire to when they start playing and watching hockey. He seemed confident in his opinions and not on the verge of a mental breakdown when someone lightly countered what he had to say.

Years ago I would watch Cherry during intermissions because he usually had some interesting comments on the issues of the day. Once, during a playoff game between the Jets and the Edmonton Oilers at the Winnipeg Arena, I held up a sign before the start of the first period.

Cherry and MacLean were doing the pre-game segment at ice level. It was a day after Easter and Dale Hawerechuk had improved his play in the previous game as compared to the start of the series. No one seemed to react to my "Hawerchuk has Risen" sign except for Cherry, who saw me waving frantically and gave me the thumbs up. Maybe that was before his religious phase.

A creeping mental stagnation and commentary full of contradictions and weirdness has turned him into an embarrassing sideshow schtick. His stable of "outs" invoked whenever he can't respond to a question with a modicum of logic is similarly pathetic.

The insinuation by many that if you criticize Cherry you are somehow against children, Christianity or "the troops" is, if not planned, then welcomed as a nice deflection. It means he rarely has to defend his point of view. He simply changes the focus to one of his safe topics.

In the episode on Saturday December 22nd, Cherry squealed like a spoiled child on the verge of crying because he didn't get his way, shrieking that "We're Hockey Night in Canada and we're talkin' about savin' the world here! Let's talk hockey! Now, DA TROOPS!"

Video of Coach's Corner on Hockey Night in Canada December 22nd, 2007

Outraged? Proving that the kind of controversy he generates does actually provoke discussion? Yeah, maybe. I'm all in favour of saying the most politically incorrect things possible, as long as they can back them up. I will keep watching too, in the knowledge that people who thrive on attention but are devoid of substance will eventually do whatever it takes to keep getting headlines.

The comical aspect of someone who yelps about respect but is the most disrespectful person around is, at some level, entertainment.

Just as the impending train wreck provides easy fodder for those who want to rip Cherry, the celebration of his ignorance and hypocrisy offers a thrill for many as well. Anti-intellectualism in its purest form and the comforting thought that bluster, personal attacks and generalizations often do trump respect, quality and thought provoking analysis.


  1. Couldn't agree more. HNIC has a new twosome waiting in the wings, however, in Kelly Hrudey with Scott Oake. Hrudey gives a better commentary than Cherry with undisputed hockey knowledge delivered in a calm, easy-going manner. I could listen to those two guys all day.

    Cherry's spluttering would work better in professional wrestling.

    - The GSOB

  2. The audiable level of the pay-by-play announcer is barely audible whereas the background noise is overpowering. I watch Hockey Night In Canada every Saturday night and the volume level is the same on all CBC stations. Why?

  3. BECAUSE of MR.Donald Cherry
    I am forced to watch Hockey Night in Canada alone now. .Since Mr.Cherry has been paying homage to our fallen soldiers in Afghanistan I stand at attention and salute them as tears roll down my cheeks for the families.I thank Mr.Cherry for doing that.I think we all should stan at attention for these soldiers.I appreciate what they do but I do not agree that they should be there.
    God Bless you Don Cherry for making these soldiers a part of our family. God Bless Hockey Night in Canada for allowing you the time.

  4. Don can you please response to Mike Milberry comment
    on Marc Savard. You are a Bostonian and you would appreciate any player that bring grit to Boston.
    I do believe that Bruin with Chara and Savard have made
    a good impact and please mention Thomas so that Mike Milberry can comment on a positive note. Or did the Boston organization pay Milberry for is brilliant comment. Please excuse my spelling.

    Ron Poirier
    Ottawa Ontario Canada

  5. may 6 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Don you were so right,every other (golly) gets ruffed up is called interference, but when it happens to LOUNGO is a different story, they don't even review it, and when it comes to penalties !well! must as- well forget it. Is like they have no respect for the Canadian league. In my opinion seems like they don't want a Canadian team to win the cup, you know is not fair that not only have to play harder but have to fight the referees also. So what is really happening out there? I could say a lot more, but all I know is that it doesn't look right.
    china Horsfield

  6. I am trying to find out how to or where to send a picture we have of our nephew who was killed in Afganistan June 21 2010.The picture is of Sgt.James MacNeil standing next to a life size cut out of Don Cherry.Jimmy is in his green combat uniform and it was taken in Afganistan on his third tour.Jimmy was killed on his 4th tour.Thanks.Jimmy was a huge Montreal fan and we also have pictures of him with Guy Lefleur when he was there supporting out troops.

  7. I watch Coach's Corner every week. I would like to find out how to contact Don but can't seem to find a contact address or e-mail. If someone knows, I would appreciate it if you could let me know.


  8. Hi , the incident of the Boston Bruin player checking the Montreal Canadain into the glass frame the other night could be averted to very minimum injuries if the league, NHL would put this glass and frame in ,which is either side of both player benches, at a sloped upward angle causing a player to ride up this area instead of a direct vertical hit into it, should really be done at every rink in America. Thank you, Dennis Boulley Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada, home phone# 705 568 8899, work # 705 567 3268

  9. i was just looking to contact grapes to inform him that i was listning to pat burns when he first got sick and he was saying that people should get a colon check so a few months later i got one and my colon was clean but they found a cancerous tumor on my kidney and the doctor told me if i hadn't came then it would have spread to other organs so if it wasn't for pat burns who i admired throught out his career i might not be here to watch my son shane play also if you could forward this to grapes who i have met when my brother played for him and we met again in chicago last year in the playoffs through shane i would also try to find pat's wife so i could write her and let her know how pat extended my life i have been cancer free for 6 years please forward this to grapes