The indications are out there that Saturday night, may mark the end of Donald S. Cherry’s time in the Coach’s Corner. Given the chance to throw out the ever popular “Don fits nicely into our future plans”, CBC managers have been rather quiet concerning the fate of the most talked about hockey commentator in the land. Sticking to their stale old, "we won't discuss any contracts until after the playoffs" CBC managers seem to be tripping over each other to avoid the topic. Rumours continue to fly that tired of the various controversies surrounding Cherry, the management cabal that runs the CBC have given the order that Cherry is to fade to black with the end of the season.
Cherry himself hinted as much in Thursday’s game as he showed yet one more clip of Bobby Orr flying through the air. Cherry suggested that this may be the last time he gets to show the clip. If indeed the CBC finally pulls the plug on Cherry it will be a controversial move, one which is sure to see a backlash from the legion of fans that follow his every word. The hard to control Cherry shoots from the lip and seldom seems to think out his comments, which has led to many run ins with management over the years. On more than one occasion many folks seemed to believe that Cherry had stepped over the line one time to many and would surely be shot down. But he always seemed to bounce back, chastised but never vanquished; he would stick to his beliefs right or wrong.
But if the rumblings are true, it may all come to an end Saturday night, and if it does perhaps it’s fitting that it takes place when a Canadian team wins the Cup. Indeed it’s a great coincidence that the Flames embody the hard working, lunch bucket style that made Cherry famous in hockey circles for years. The Flames play Cherry’s kind of hockey, they aren’t afraid to take a hit or give one out, they play a style of hockey that keeps the opposition honest at all times and they have the kind of leader that Cherry would approve of in Jarome Iginla.
The audience for tomorrow’s Game six broadcast on CBC is expected to possibly be over 4 million people. Don’t be surprised if the number increases between periods 1 and 2 as Cherry speaks out, maybe his time has passed, maybe he’s not always relevant or on topic, but every Saturday night Canadians have tuned in between the first and second period to see what Don thinks. After Saturday, it won’t be quite the same if he’s gone.
It will also be particularly cowardly of the CBC to not at least send him off in a style befitting the king of Hockey Night in Canada, should he just fade off like an old soldier it will surely come back to haunt the CBC executives in charge. Cherry for all his faults deserves a spectacular sendoff, one that at least would recognize his contribution to the package that has made Hockey Night in Canada probably the most watched show in Canadian television.
The time may have come for him to take his leave, but many are just not ready. There are few folks that fit the lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s signature song My Way. But Cherry is one of them, it’s just a natural that the lyrics were written by fellow Canadian, Paul Anka.
There’s probably no better way to send Grapes out, than to take a look at and sing along with Mr. Sinatra’s song.
And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.
I've lived a life that's full.
I've traveled each and ev'ry highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Regrets, I've had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.
I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.