Donald Stewart (Don) Cherry, hockey broadcaster, coach, player and team owner (b at Kingston, Ont 5 Feb 1934 ). Hockey coach Don Cherry, whose personality and passion for the game have made Cherry a household name across Canada, is known for his colourful attire and equally colourful commentary. Nicknamed "Grapes" (a play on his last name and "sour grapes"), Cherry's blunt, direct, and occasionally controversial opinions have for years drawn the ire, and admiration, of hockey fans across the country.
Before Cherry was a coach, he played hockey as a professional minor league defenceman for 16 seasons, beginning in 1954. He was recruited to play one game for the Boston Bruins during the Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens in 1955, but an off-season injury prevented him from returning to the NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE (NHL). Cherry first retired from hockey in 1969 after spending 6 seasons with the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League (AHL), but he returned to the team in 1971, first as a player and in Jan 1972 as head coach.
Following his 3rd and final season as coach of the Americans and as top coach in the AHL, Cherry joined the Boston Bruins in 1974. He led the team to 4 first place finishes in their division between 1975 and 1979. In 1976, he won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach. However, in 1979, after committing a crucial coaching mistake in the 7th and deciding game of a Stanley Cup playoff match against the Canadiens, Cherry, who was feuding already with general manager Harry Sinden, left the team. He coached one more season with the NHL's worst team, the Colorado Rockies, but by spring 1980 he was fired and Cherry left coaching in the NHL for good. He re-entered amateur minor hockey in 1998 when he and 3 other investors launched the Mississauga IceDogs franchise in the Ontario Hockey League, a team he co-owned until 2002 and even coached during his final year with the team.
Since 1980, Cherry has become a Canadian icon by hosting radio and television programs, appearing on commercials, releasing a series of top-selling hockey highlight videos, building a franchise of restaurants under his name and, most popularly, appearing on the intermission series "Coach's Corner" on the CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION's (CBC) Hockey Night in Canada. He first appeared during a playoff game in 1980, and since 1987 has sat beside program host Ron MacLean. Critics of "Coach's Corner" decry Cherry's imperfect use of English, his promotion of fighting in hockey, and his tendency to group players and comment on their skills according to their nationality. Identified in print as the "Prime Minister of Saturday Night," Cherry has also used "Coach's Corner" to express opinions on Canadian politics, most notably criticizing opponents of military operations in the Persian Gulf (1991) and Iraq (2003).
Whether it is the controversy Don Cherry stirs, his insight into the game of hockey, or even the tie he wears, audience numbers go up whenever he appears on television. As a testament to this, viewers of CBC's 2004 program and nation-wide contest "The Greatest Canadian" voted Cherry as the country's 7th "greatest."