A case FOR Don Cherry
Don Cherry should be on television until he doesn’t want to be.
Rogers isn’t going to ask me what to do about anything. (If they had, my cell phone deal – and yours – would have been different.) But I can tell you, from my perspective, why he belongs on the air.
He is unforgettable.
I once spent a weekend with Grapes. I was doing promo for the Brandon Wheat Kings hockey team and we brought the man in to speak at a big dinner event. It was my job to squire him around, including half a day in the car and airport together each way to and from the Winnipeg airport.
He was fascinating and compelling.
The new deal that has Rogers in control of hockey broadcasting in Canada for the next dozen years raises a lot of questions about where and how you will view games. Will it stay on television at all over the term? Media companies are eager to move content to all the “platforms” they control and moving sports from free TV or even basic cable is a growth industry. If you want to see the game, you have to buy a ticket one way or another these days.
Monday Night Football used to be free on ABC. Now you have to pay for sports channels in order to see it.
The who, what, where and how of all of those deals makes for fascinating speculation for sports fans, tech geeks and, I am sure for Rogers executives as well. You would think that would fill a lot of newspaper pages and talk shows.
But that isn’t what all the hot air and ink was spilled on this past week. The conversation in the media, at Tim’s and on the sidelines of the kids sports events was mostly about whether Ron and Don would still do Coach’s Corner.
Saturday Cherry showed video of superstar player Alex Ovechkin carefully taping a stick, trimming the tape with scissors. Cherry pointed out to kids that their parents spend a lot of money on equipment and perhaps they could look after the investment in the same way that Ovechkin does.
That is a service to parents and a good lesson for kids, delivered by a guy who isn’t worried whether somebody thinks he should stick to the X and O, just-the-plays-and-players type of broadcasting everyone else does.
What other broadcaster would take the time to honour soldiers and cheerlead his country the way Cherry does? The fact that people want to stop him from do it, and many people take to the Internet to hate on him for it, says more about them than it does about him; a man who loves his country and will speak loudly for it.
With no disrespect to the rest of the field in the world of sports broadcasting, but he irreplaceable. Name another sports commentator that is as regularly commented on as Cherry is.
He compares to Kevin O’Leary on Dragon’s Den. The other panelists are great, even as some of them come and go, but O’Leary, like Cherry, is the one you remember and love to hate.
Both of them speak the brutal truth as they see it and weather the slings and arrows of the resulting attack.
I am sure Cherry doesn’t remember me. But I will never forget him; and either will you, and that’s the point.