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Don Cherry
Don Cherry in 2010.jpg
Cherry in 2010
Born (1934-02-05) February 5, 1934 (age 89)
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for Boston Bruins
Coached for Boston Bruins
Colorado Rockies
Playing career 1954–1972
Coaching career 1971–1980

Donald Stewart Cherry (born February 5, 1934) is a Canadian former ice hockey player, coach, and television commentator. Cherry played one game in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Boston Bruins, and later coached the team for five seasons after concluding a successful playing career in the American Hockey League, leading the team to four division titles and two appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals.

From 1986 to 2019, Cherry co-hosted Coach's Corner—a segment aired during CBC's Saturday-night NHL broadcast Hockey Night in Canada, with Ron MacLean. Nicknamed Grapes, he is known for his outspoken manner and opinions, and his flamboyant dress. By the 2018–19 NHL season, Cherry and MacLean had hosted Coach's Corner for 33 seasons. From 1984 to 2019, Cherry hosted Grapevine, a short-form radio segment with fellow sportscaster Brian Williams. He created and starred in the direct-to-video series Don Cherry's Rock'Em Sock'em Hockey from 1989 to 2018.

In 2004, Cherry was voted by viewers as the seventh-greatest Canadian of all-time in the CBC miniseries The Greatest Canadian. In March 2010, his life was dramatized in a two-part CBC movie, Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story, based on a script written by his son, Timothy Cherry. In March 2012, CBC aired a sequel, The Wrath of Grapes: The Don Cherry Story II.

Cherry has expressed controversial political views, having faced criticism for remarks regarding Canada's lack of support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, his support for then-Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, and denying climate change. In November 2019, Cherry was fired by Sportsnet from Hockey Night in Canada for commenting that Canadian immigrants benefit from the sacrifices of veterans but do not wear Remembrance Day poppies.

Early life and family

Cherry was born in Kingston, Ontario to Delmar (Del) and Maude Cherry. His paternal grandfather, Sub/Cst. John T. (Jack) Cherry, was an original member of the North-West Mounted Police (now Royal Canadian Mounted Police), and a Great Lakes ship captain. His maternal grandfather, Richard Palamountain, was a British orphan of Cornish parentage who emigrated to Canada as one of the Home Children. The name Palamountain is a corruption of the Cornish language "pol-mun-tyr" meaning "pool by the mineral land". Palamountain was also a veteran of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Cherry's father Del was an amateur athlete and worked as an electrician with the Canadian Steamship Lines. On the March 15, 2008 edition of Coach's Corner, Cherry wore the green and gold colours of County Kerry, Ireland. In his segment following the game, he claimed ancestry from that region. Cherry's younger brother, Dick Cherry played hockey at various levels, including two seasons in the National Hockey League with the Philadelphia Flyers.

In his first year with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, he met his future wife Rosemarie (Rose) Cherry née Madelyn Martini (born 1935 in Hershey, Pennsylvania). Rose was hugely influential in Don's life—because of Don's minor-league hockey lifestyle, they moved 53 times; they rarely had decent housing or furnishings, and Don was often away playing during major events, such as the birth of their daughter and first child, Cindy Cherry. Six years after Cindy's birth, Rose gave birth to son Tim Cherry. When Tim needed a kidney transplant at age 13, Cindy donated one of hers. The two currently live across the street from each other, around the corner from their father, in Mississauga.

Rose died of liver cancer on June 1, 1997 and in honour of her perseverance, Don created Rose Cherry's Home for Kids. Her name has motivated Cherry to always wear a rose on his lapel. Cherry contributed in developing Rose Cherry's Home for Kids which has since been renamed to The Darling Home for Kids, in Milton, Ontario. The Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, is located on "Rose Cherry Place", a street named for his late wife.

In 1999, Don married his second wife, Luba.

Playing career

Photo By Kelly Shea (31965336207)
Cherry was inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame in 2019.

Cherry played junior hockey with the Barrie Flyers and the Windsor Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey Association. Cherry won the Memorial Cup while playing defence in Barrie in 1953. He dropped out of high school, and in 1954 he signed with the American Hockey League's (AHL) Hershey Bears.

Cherry had a long playing career in professional minor hockey, and in 1955 played his only NHL game when the Boston Bruins called him up during the playoffs. According to Cherry, a baseball injury suffered in the off season kept him from making the NHL, despite his almost 20 years playing in the minor leagues. He retired as a player in 1970, but came out of retirement two years later to play 19 final games with the Rochester Americans. Cherry won the Calder Cup championship (AHL) four times—1960 with the Springfield Indians, and 1965, 1966, 1968 with Rochester. He also won the Lester Patrick Cup, the Western Hockey League Championship, with the Vancouver Canucks in 1969.

Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1951–52 Windsor Spitfires OHA 18 0 3 3 30
1951–52 Barrie Flyers OHA 18 2 3 5 30
1952–53 Barrie Flyers OHA 56 5 3 8 66 25 4 3 7 46
1953–54 Barrie Flyers OHA 55 10 14 24 61
1954–55 Hershey Bears AHL 63 7 13 20 125
1954–55 Boston Bruins NHL 1 0 0 0 0
1955–56 Hershey Bears AHL 58 3 22 25 102
1956–57 Hershey Bears AHL 64 5 20 25 197 7 2 0 2 27
1957–58 Springfield Indians AHL 65 9 17 26 83 13 1 1 2 10
1958–59 Springfield Indians AHL 70 6 22 28 118
1959–60 Springfield Indians AHL 46 2 11 13 45 1 0 0 0 2
1959–60 Trois-Rivières Lions EPHL 23 3 4 7 12 7 0 1 1 2
1960–61 Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers EPHL 70 13 26 39 78 7 0 3 3 23
1961–62 Sudbury Wolves EPHL 55 9 20 29 62 5 3 2 5 10
1961–62 Springfield Indians AHL 11 1 3 4 10
1962–63 Spokane Comets WHL 68 9 13 22 68
1963–64 Rochester Americans AHL 70 5 11 16 106 2 0 0 0 4
1964–65 Rochester Americans AHL 62 4 8 12 56 10 0 1 1 34
1965–66 Tulsa Oilers CHL 17 1 2 3 28
1965–66 Rochester Americans AHL 56 5 11 16 61 12 2 5 7 14
1966–67 Rochester Americans AHL 72 6 24 30 61 13 1 2 3 16
1967–68 Rochester Americans AHL 68 6 15 21 74 11 1 1 2 2
1968–69 Rochester Americans AHL 43 7 11 18 20
1968–69 Vancouver Canucks WHL 33 0 6 6 29 8 2 2 4 6
1971–72 Rochester Americans AHL 19 1 4 5 8
NHL totals 1 0 0 0 0
AHL totals 767 67 192 259 1,066 69 7 10 17 109

Coaching career

After the end of the 1968–69 season, his playing career was essentially over. Cherry struggled for a time as a Cadillac salesman and a construction worker. He worked as a house painter earning $2 per hour.

In the middle of the 1971–72 season, Cherry became the coach of the American Hockey League's Rochester Americans and won Coach of the Year. The following year, the title of General Manager was added. In his third season behind the bench, Cherry was voted the AHL's "Coach of the Year".

Boston Bruins

After his three-year stint in Rochester, he was promoted to the NHL as head coach of the Boston Bruins for the 1974–75 season. The Bruins were coming off a successful run of two Stanley Cups and three first-place finishes, but after Cherry's first season as coach the team would see the exit of superstars Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.

Cherry quickly developed a reputation for being an eccentric, flamboyant coach who strongly encouraged physical play among his players. According to Cherry, he molded the Bruins' playing style after that of his dog, Blue, a feisty bull terrier. While the team had been known for Orr and Esposito who were highly skilled scorers, the 1975–76 Bruins started the season in brief slump in part due to Orr's knee injury that saw him play only ten games, plus Orr would become a free agent at the end of the season. Cherry remade the team with enforcers and grinders which became known as the "lunch-pail gang" (or "lunch pail A.C.") and "the Big Bad Bruins", with Esposito and Carol Vadnais being traded to the New York Rangers for Brad Park and Jean Ratelle, as Esposito disagreed with Cherry's coaching including having a disinclination to backcheck. This approach of "balance over brilliance" rejuvenated the Bruins, in particular the careers of Park and Ratelle, as they continued to be one of the NHL's best teams during the latter half of the 1970s, capturing the Adams division title four straight seasons from 1975–76 through 1978–79, with Cherry winning the Jack Adams Award (NHL coach of the year) for the 1975 season. In the 1977–78 season, Cherry coached the Bruins team to an NHL record of 11 players with 20 goals or more on a single team.

The Bruins were able to defeat the rough Philadelphia Flyers twice in the playoffs under Cherry's tenure. The Bruins made the Stanley Cup finals twice, both times losing to their arch-rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, in both 1977 and 1978. The late 1970s Canadiens were one of the most dominant teams in the NHL, with three of their eight regular losses in the 1976–77 season coming at the hands of the Bruins. In the 1979 semi-final playoff series against the Canadiens, Cherry's Bruins pushed the series to the limit but they were undone by a late penalty in the seventh game. Up by a goal with less than three minutes left in the seventh game, the Bruins were called for having too many men on the ice, which he blamed on himself, saying later that "The guy couldn't have heard me yell. I grabbed two other guys trying to go over the boards. That would have made eight on the ice." The Canadiens' Guy Lafleur scored the tying goal on the subsequent power play, and ultimately the Canadiens won the game in overtime. Montreal went on to defeat the New York Rangers for their fourth straight Cup title. Cherry, who had an uneasy relationship with Bruins General Manager Harry Sinden, was fired by the Bruins afterward.

Colorado Rockies

Cherry went on to coach the Colorado Rockies in the 1979-80 season. Under his tenure, the Rockies adopted the motto "Come to the fights and watch a Rockies game break out!" and the slogan could be seen on billboards all over Denver throughout the season.

However, as he later admitted, his outspokenness and feuding with Rockies general manager Ray Miron did not endear Cherry to management. While Cherry did much to motivate the players, goaltending was still the team's weakness as Miron refused to replace Hardy Åström, whom Cherry dubbed "The Swedish Sieve". Cherry recalled one game where his players had taken ten shots on goal without scoring, but Åström then conceded a goal from the opponent's first shot and so was yanked from net.

In a late-season game in Chicago, the Blackhawks scored the game-winning goal while Mike McEwen, a favourite of the Rockies owners, was on the ice. When McEwen returned to the bench, Cherry grabbed him by the jersey and shook him. McEwen left the team for several days and did not return until after meeting with Miron and the club owners. Cherry's belief, stated later, was that the owners had promised McEwen that Cherry would be fired after the season.

The Rockies finished with a league-worst 19-48-13 record, also the worst single-season mark of Cherry's coaching career. He was fired six weeks after the season ended.


Cherry agreed to become the new head coach of the Saskatoon Blues, Bill Hunter's proposed relocation of the St. Louis Blues to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. However, the NHL's Board of Governors rejected the move on May 18, 1983, and the Blues eventually remained in St. Louis.

Internationally, Cherry was an assistant coach for Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup and was head coach for Canada's team at the 1981 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Cherry was the part-owner and the former coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga IceDogs. As owner and general manager, he gained notoriety by refusing to take part in the CHL import draft, and by only playing North American-born players. The IceDogs' first three seasons were difficult ones with the team winning a total of 16 games combined. Cherry took over coaching duties in the fourth season. During Cherry's one season as head coach of the IceDogs, the team managed 11 victories (only a slight improvement) and failed to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year. Cherry drew some criticism for his sudden decision to allow European-born players onto the IceDogs line-up during the one season he coached the team.

Head coaching record


Team Year Regular season Postseason
G W L T Pts Finish W L Win % Result
BOS 1974–75 80 40 26 14 94 2nd in Adams 1 2 .333 Lost in Preliminary Round (CHI)
BOS 1975–76 80 48 15 17 113 1st in Adams 5 7 .417 Lost in Semifinals (PHI)
BOS 1976–77 80 49 23 8 106 1st in Adams 8 6 .571 Lost in Stanley Cup Finals (MTL)
BOS 1977–78 80 51 18 11 113 1st in Adams 10 5 .667 Lost in Stanley Cup Finals (MTL)
BOS 1978–79 80 43 23 14 100 1st in Adams 7 4 .636 Lost in Semifinals (MTL)
BOS total 400 231 105 64 526 31 24 .564 5 playoff appearances
CLR 1979–80 80 19 48 13 51 6th in Smythe Missed playoffs
CLR total 80 19 48 13 51 No playoff appearances
Total 480 250 153 77 577 31 24 .564 5 playoff appearances

Minor leagues

Team Year Regular season Postseason
G W L T Pts Finish W L Win % Result
RCH 1971–72 39 16 18 5 37 5th in East Missed playoffs
RCH 1972–73 76 33 31 12 78 3rd in East 2 4 .333 Lost in Division Semifinals
RCH 1973–74 76 42 21 13 97 1st in North 2 4 .333 Lost in Division Semifinals
RCH total 191 91 70 30 212 4 8 .333 2 playoff appearances

Broadcasting career

Cherry Maclean
Cherry with Ron MacLean at the 2002 Winter Olympics. The two were partnered on Coach's Corner from 1986 to 2019.

After the Colorado Rockies failed to qualify for the 1980 Stanley Cup playoffs, Cherry was hired as a studio analyst for CBC's playoff coverage that spring, working alongside host Dave Hodge. CBC hired him full-time in 1981 as a colour commentator, but he didn't last long in that role due to his tendency to openly cheer for one of the teams playing, especially the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead, Coach's Corner was created, a segment that appeared in the first intermission on Hockey Night in Canada, with Dave Hodge. In 1986, Hodge was replaced by Ron MacLean. For several years he also hosted his own half-hour interview show, Don Cherry's Grapevine, which began on Hamilton's CHCH-TV in the 1980s before moving to TSN. His loud, outspoken nature became notorious, and his shows are described as "game analysis, cultural commentary and playful parrying with host Ron MacLean." Cherry also hosted a syndicated weekly television show called Don Cherry's This Week in Hockey during the 1987–88 NHL season. It featured highlights from the previous week's NHL games. The highlight of each show was when Cherry awarded a Black and Decker cordless drill to the player who levied the "hit of the week" (called the "Drill of the Week" in order to tie into the cordless drill giveaway).

Cherry's commentary was usually peppered with catchphrases like "All you kids out there...," unrestrained affection for his favourite players (including Steve Yzerman and Kingston native Doug Gilmour, whom Cherry affectionately referred to as "Dougie" and once kissed on-air in a famous TV gag), and overall political incorrectness. Another trademark was his bull terrier Blue, originally a gift from the Bruins players.

Cherry tended to frequently focus on a few pieces of advice that he felt strongly about. Virtually every week on Coach's Corner he spent time exhorting the evils of attempting to block a shot using one's hockey stick (arguing that it often causes deflections while impeding the goalie's view of the puck). Two other perennial favourites were the dangers of touch icing (a rule he blamed for the premature end to Pat Peake's career) and the extremely sensitive rules about crease violation during the early 2000s (since relaxed). He was also critical of the two-minute penalty for firing the puck into the crowd from the defensive zone, introduced since the start of the 2005–06 NHL season.

He also praised hockey players who show great toughness. Examples of this included when, in the 1999 playoffs, a Phoenix Coyotes winger crawled off the ice after enduring a bone-shattering slap shot from St. Louis Blues defenceman Al MacInnis so that another could take his place. Usually at the end of the NHL season, his send-off words in recent years were about NHL prospects entering the NHL draft. His position was that unless a player is guaranteed to be selected in the first or second rounds, he should not physically attend the draft, reasoning that some players could be disappointed if they are drafted later than expected, or worse, not at all.

Cherry returned to the news in May 2004 amid rumours that CBC would terminate his contract for Hockey Night in Canada. However, he re-signed with the network in July.

Branching out from his Hockey Night in Canada duties, Cherry began to release a series of videos called Don Cherry's Rock'Em Sock'em Hockey in 1989. The 15th-anniversary video was released in 2003, with a 'Best Of' released in 2005. For the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, NBC decided to feature Cherry in its intermission coverage, a rare appearance on American television. He was partnered with Bill Clement and Brett Hull and it did not conflict with his usual role on CBC as he appeared on NBC during the second intermission.

In May 2008, ESPN announced that Cherry was joining Barry Melrose as a commentator for the remainder of the 2008 NHL Playoffs. He provided pre-game analysis for the conference finals, pre- and post-game analysis for the Stanley Cup finals, and appeared on ESPNews and ESPN Radio. ESPN also announced that he would donate his fees to the Humane Society.

From 1984 to 2019, Cherry co-hosted Don Cherry's Grapeline with Brian Williams, first on CFRB radio in Toronto and its sister stations, moving in 1994 to The FAN 590 and the Sportsnet Radio network. At its peak, the show was carried on over 100 stations across Canada and on several stations in the United States.

One of his trademarks was the colourful jackets, shirts, and ties he wore during the "Coach's Corner" segment of Hockey Night in Canada.

Cherry was criticized for comments targeting specific ethnicities, such as French Canadians and Europeans, and this led to Cherry's broadcasts being put on a seven-second delay by the CBC, in 2004.

Opinions on hockey

Cherry is a strong advocate of a tough "Canadian" type of hockey which emphasizes physical play and a code of conduct among the players. He believes that fighting is an integral part of the game as it enforces respect between teams and players, as well as being popular with some members of the public.

He has long been a champion of hardworking "journeyman" players, whom he identifies with from his own time spent playing in the minor leagues. Cherry's favourite player of all time is Bobby Orr who he says is the greatest player of all time. Other favourites include Doug Gilmour, Vincent Lecavalier, and Cam Neely. Cherry has criticized many players for what he considers dishonourable conduct, but perhaps none more than Ulf Samuelsson and Matt Cooke, whom he considered to be exceptionally dirty players responsible for many severe injuries.

Cherry has strongly criticized the direction taken by the National Hockey League in recent years, reducing fighting in favour of speed and skill. Specific rules that he criticizes include touch-up icing and the instigator rule.

He also frequently criticized players for elaborate celebrations after goals. In 2003, Cherry made headlines by criticizing then heavily publicized junior prospect Sidney Crosby for being a "hot dog" because of the way Crosby slid around on his knees after scoring. He also disapproved of a tricky behind-the-net goal the young star pulled off when a game was already out of reach for the team he scored on. He commented on the controversy caused by Alexander Ovechkin's celebration after he scored his 50th goal in 2009.

In January 2004, on the subject of visors, Cherry claimed on Coach's Corner that visor users have less respect for player safety and attempted to illustrate his claim by saying : "Most of the guys that wear them are Europeans and French guys". This statement triggered an investigation by the federal Official Languages Commissioner, and protests by French-Canadians. CBC consequently imposed a seven-second delay on Hockey Night in Canada. Later on, a study was published that proved Cherry to be half-right: while 50% of Europeans and 40% of French-Canadians wore visors, compared to 22% of North Americans born outside of Quebec, players who wear visors committed proportionately fewer high-sticking penalties than players who do not. Cherry returned to the Coach's Corner for the 2005–06 NHL season without the seven-second delay.

Along similar lines, in 2019 he criticized the Carolina Hurricanes for their on-ice victory celebrations, calling them a "bunch of jerks." The Hurricanes adopted "Bunch of Jerks" as a battle cry, even going as far as projecting it on the ice at PNC Arena before and after games.

Cherry is a staunch supporter of women's hockey, and sledge hockey. In 1997, the Canadian women's national ice hockey team paid tribute to the late Rose Cherry. Canadian Hockey chairman Bob MacKinnon thanked Cherry stating "The growing popularity of the women's game in our country owes a great deal to Don and Rose Cherry... Don has been a strong supporter of the female game since the early 1980s and continues to speak out in favour of women's hockey. It's a pleasure for me, as chairman of Canadian Hockey, to be a part of this tribute to Rose Cherry, who was a keen supporter of female hockey herself."


On November 14, 2005, Cherry was granted honorary membership of the Police Association of Ontario. Once an aspiring police officer, Cherry has been a longtime supporter of the police services. In his own words, "This is the best thing I've ever had." In June 2007, Cherry was made a Dominion Command Honorary Life Member of the Royal Canadian Legion in recognition of "his longstanding and unswerving support of... Canadians in uniform". In February 2008, Cherry was awarded the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service for 'unwavering support to men and women of the Canadian Forces, honouring fallen soldiers on his CBC broadcast during Coach's Corner, a segment of Hockey Night in Canada'.

In 2004, Cherry ranked at number 7 on the CBC's miniseries The Greatest Canadian. Cherry remarked that he was "a good Canadian", but not the greatest Canadian, and that he was personally rooting for fellow Kingston resident, John A. Macdonald.

In 2016, Cherry, along with his Coach's Corner co-host Ron MacLean, received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

Other ventures

In 1992, Cherry lent his voice to the charity song "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Techno" for Canadian techno group BKS.

Acting career

As part of his fame, Cherry has also branched out into some acting roles. He was cast as Jake Nelson in the television series Power Play. Nelson was the coach of the Philadelphia team playing against the Hamilton Steelheads in the playoffs during the first season. Also, he and Ron MacLean provided voices for themselves in the animated television series Zeroman, which starred Leslie Nielsen. He also appeared on an episode of Goosebumps called "Don't Go to Sleep!" where he plays a hockey coach. His voice was also used in Disney's animated feature The Wild, as a penguin curling broadcaster. He also appeared alongside the Trailer Park Boys in The Tragically Hip's video "The Darkest One". His voice was also used in the Mickey Mouse episode "Bad Ear Day", as an ice hockey game announcer.

In 2008, he also appeared on an episode of Holmes on Homes, the widely popular home improvement show. While not appearing scripted, Cherry apparently lived in the neighbourhood and he is shown speaking with Mike Holmes about the construction business and the ongoing project at his brother-in-law's house.

Business and charitable work

In 1985, the first of a chain of franchised sports bars/restaurants bearing Cherry's name was opened in Hamilton. Cherry started as a partner in the operation and has more recently licensed his name to the chain without holding a significant ownership stake in the company. "Don Cherry's Sports Grill" has locations in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Cherry, who is an advocate of options for pet owners to keep their pets healthy, has also partnered with companion animal organization Pethealth Inc. to offer Canadians the hockey-inspired CherryBlue Pet Insurance program. Cherry is pictured on with his popular bull terrier Blue, for whom the program is named.

Cherry created the Don Cherry Pet Rescue Foundation and donates all profits from his Simply Pets snacks line to animal charities. During the 42nd Canadian Parliament, Cherry, typically a supporter of the Conservatives made a video supporting Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith's ultimately unsuccessful private member's bill that sought to toughen animal cruelty laws.

Cherry has lent his considerable persona to several charitable causes, most significantly, organ donation awareness.

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