With apologies to the good folks at Zamboni, these are dark days for the NHL.
First, the marketing wizards at the NHL are enjoying piss-poor ratings (that’s a link from a blog named Lion in Oil … I have no idea what that means).
Don Cherry is a half-senile nitwit (if such a phrase isn’t redundant), fond of racist generalizations. To (nit)wit:
Over his career on television, Cherry has been described as “racially insensitive and nonsensical”, and a “xenophobic clown.”
Cherry has a strong dislike of the “European style” of hockey, and has often insulted French Canadian hockey players on his show, blaming them for bringing diving, high-sticking and the introduction of visors into the league, while taking the jobs of “good-old Canadian boys.” On the subject of visors, Cherry is particularly outspoken. In January, 2004, he said on-air: “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. He was somewhat vindicated when a study was published that showed the majority of visor users in the NHL were indeed French-Canadians and Europeans.
Don Cherry has also had a habit of mispronouncing player names. The alleged mispronunciation occurs when it comes to players of European or French-Canadian origin, indicating that these “mishaps” may be intended on his part. Famous examples are “Yammie Yagger” for Jaromir Jagr and “Pat Roy” for goaltending legend, Patrick Roy (the word “Roy” being pronounced as “boy” instead of the French pronunciation, “Roo-ah”).
After questionable gestures on the part of Atlanta Thrashers’ star winger Ilya Kovalchuk, Cherry fumed: “Someone should have broken [Kovalchuk's arm], but they didn’t.” (Thanks, Wikipedia)
“A lot of people have written that what I say up here I would never get away with it down in the States,” Cherry said in a Toronto Star story. I disagree. This is, after all, America in the Post-Imus Era, so the lumpenproletariat are ripe for his brand of xenophobic clownery.
On the upside (if there is an upside), any controversy he generates will only help the sickly NHL. Maybe he could punch out Gary Bettmann (from Wiki: “During [Bettman's] tenure, the NHL lost 1.8 billion dollars in 10 years. Four teams have gone bankrupt (Ottawa, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles), and as a commissioner or assisant, he oversaw lockouts in 1992, 1994, and 2004.”)
Also, for those of you wondering about the origins of Barry Melrose’s wardrobe, these photos of Cherry’s pimped-out duds will give you some idea of what will be assaulting you via your television on NBC.
Ray of sunshine: Playoff Beard Comparisons at my new favorite blog, Barry Melrose Rocks.