Don Cherry is old, and he has outdated opinions. This is common, and in many ways, he's probably similar to your grandfather. But your grandfather doesn't have influence and an international media platform, and that's why Cherry's opinions are scary.
I don't want to generalize here, but Don Cherry is old. And for the most part, old men set in their opinions and their ways are averse to any change, even when that change is clearly in favor of the greater good.
That's quite possibly the only way I can understand how Don Cherry sat on national television last night and praised a 10-year-old video of Scott Stevens handing out concussions like candy.
"I wanna know Brendan [Shanahan]. How many games would you give Scott Stevens, Hall of Famer? Everybody loved this guy. We used to say 'What a hitter, oh boy. What a guy, Hall of Famer.' How many games would you give him for this one?"
[shows hit to the head. and another hit to the head. and another]
"Enjoy this folks, because you're never going to see it again. Never. In our sport, I'll get into that later maybe."
[vicious, concussion-inducing hit video clips still rolling, including the essential end of Eric Lindros' career]
"And that one there. You'll never see it again, and it's ridiculous what they've done. The players will not hit. Guaranteed."
Cherry then gets into a whole bit about how fighters that spoke out against painkiller abuse and depression among their ranks in the midst of tragedy this summer should be ashamed of themselves for being hypocrites. But we're not going to deal with that right now. Besides, that absurdity just goes back to the main point.
What you're seeing here is Don Cherry, a man with a national -- no, international -- platform to spew outdated opinions that essentially call for career and life threatening injuries in the name of entertainment.
And yes, hitting is entertaining. Physical play is entertaining. Fighting is entertaining.
But concussions and ruined lives are not entertaining, and if you doubt that careers and lives were ruined by some of the exact hits shown in that Coach's Corner segment on Thursday night, Eric Lindros is a perfect example at which to look. Or, just venture up to Marc Savard's house in Ontario to see how vicious hits to the head ruin lives.
Times change, Don. Believe it or not, we used to find battles to the death in giant stadiums entertaining too, but we don't exactly do that anymore.
Hockey players are tough, strong, and for my money, the most talented athletes on the planet. (Seriously, put Deion Sanders on a pair of skates. We'll see how that goes.) But they're not gladiators, and we shouldn't ask that of them for what basically amounts to a cheap thrill in the midst of an otherwise highly riveting sport.
Oh, and by the way: Hitting is most certainly not dead.
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