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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don Cherry Watch

I've not watched a whole lot of the Winter Olympics. I like a lot of the sports, and my earliest (and best) Olympic memories are of Lake Placid in 1980. But the NBC coverage leaves a lot to be desired, my beloved CBC didn't win the rights for these games, and I've got a lot of other things going on as well.

The one thing I absolutely must watch is the men's ice hockey final, provided a North America team is in it. It appears most likely to be a USA-Canada rematch. Considering that my ethnic heritage could best be described as "Canadian-American", and I appreciate how much hockey means to Canada, I'm cheering for the Canucks.

I grew up watching Hockey Night in Canada, and easily the most entertaining part of the evening is Coaches' Corner with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean. Cherry has been described for Americans in a multitude of ways that get close to his persona but aren't quite right. The one that works best for me is that he's Canada's Jesse "The Body" Ventura. And yes, Ron MacLean is every bit his Mean Gene Okerlund. The main difference is that Ventura's pro wrestling announcer gig was a schtick, whereas Cherry is being 100% himself.

The pro wrestling comparison is valid. Old-school hockey, especially of the minor league variety, appeals to a working-class audience through showmanship and violence. And I mean this in the most loving, positive way. Hockey is being a bit suburbanized and toned down, but it's still great fun. The last time I went to a game in the old Sports Arena, the fans sitting behind us were truly frightening. I love Toledo.

One part of Cherry's persona is his penchant for very nice and very wild suits. It's as if he fashions himself a don in the Scottish mafia. Believe it or not, this is one of his more subdued outfits:
For the 2002 Olympic final between the USA and Canada, watched by 2/3 of the whole country, Cherry's outfit was truly amazing, like he had been baptized in maple leafs. I am so sad that I will not be able to see it this year. But I will be able to follow it on the great blog, Don We Now Our Gay Apparel, which is dedicated to Grapes' wardrobe.

I leave you with some of his greatest hits...
At Anaheim for the Stanley Cup Finals

The annual Christmas suit

Celebrity judge for Battle of the Blades, an on-ice version of Dancing with the Stars

Can't top a classic

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