Listen, I disagree with Don Cherry a lot. Being European, I take issue with a lot of the stuff he says and does. That being said, the relationship is sometimes quite bi-polar.
People always claimed that I’m an old soul. Perhaps in terms of values (I certainly hope it’s not my partying skills). Perhaps this is why I believe there’s still something to be said about traditional values and characters.
Don Cherry is a Canadian icon. He might be an obsolete Canadian icon but sometimes, the positive reasons that made him an icon still shine through, rarely as they may. Don Cherry supports tough guys. This is good. If you’re in shock by this statement coming from a writer who stands only in support of “organic” hockey fights, I urge you to read on.
Hockey has been bleak during the past couple of years. Cases of Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak immediately spring to mind. Yes, I disagree with the role of enforcer in hockey, but fact of the matter is – the role still exists. As long as it exists, it will be played by human beings.
As one outside the game can only begin to understand, filling that role for a hockey team is largely mental. Winning fights means relief, preparing for the next bout most often means sleepless nights. Hurting other players, other human beings, as part of your daily job description isn’t really something one can be proud of, not in a game that’s played to score goals.
To each one of us, it’s important to have validation. Yes, the side effect of Cherry’s validation might be be, actually is, a positive reinforcement for the role which is no longer needed in hockey. Indeed, this actually helps the keep the role alive, but all that is besides the point in this argument.
Fact is, in a world which no longer needs them, playing a role that takes a toll on minds and (less importantly) fists, needs a spokesperson. Cherry’s validation means something to them as human beings. That’s the one thing hockey experts, fans and coaches can’t forget – they are human beings, not “dancing bears”. Cherry is right for treating them as such, even when they shouldn’t exist as players.
Happy Easter everyone, spend it with your loved ones.