An iconic hockey personality with an interesting history in the sport, Don Cherry is one of the most recognized and respected hockey commentators in the world. However, you may not be aware of his humble beginnings, his hockey career or how he ended up becoming the man he is today. The following is a closer look at his hockey history.
A natural hockey player from very early in life, Cherry–like so many of us hockey lovers — got his start playing junior hockey. Cherry played junior hockey with the Barrie Flyers as well as the Windsor Spitfires, which were both teams in the Ontario Hockey Association. A talented player in his own right, he actually won the Memorial Cup as a defenseman when playing with the Flyers. From there, feeling especially confident in his hockey skills, Cherry opted to drop out of school and sign with the American Hockey League in 1953. As a member of the Hershey Bears, Springfield Indians, Trois-Rivières Lions, Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers, Sudbury Wolves, Spokane Comets, Rochester Americans, Tulsa Oilers and Vancouver Canucks, Cherry enjoyed an impressive 20-year run in the league.
As luck would have it, however, he never actually realized his dreams of being a star in the NHL. According to Cherry, he was only ever able to play one game with the NHL — with the Boston Bruins in their 1954 season — because of an injury he sustained playing baseball in the off-season.
Achieving success often involves a long, complicated journey. Following his impressive 20-year stint with the AHL, Cherry landed a position coaching in the league. After proving himself to be a highly gifted coach, he landed the job of as head coach for the Boston Bruins. With a reputation for being an eccentric and flamboyant leader who strongly encouraged physical play among his players, he led his team to the Stanley Cup twice under his fierce leadership. From there, Cherry went on to be the head coach of the Colorado Rockies and, although they were not victorious, his presence and leadership helped rejuvenate what had been a failing franchise.
Don Cherry serves as a testament to doing what you love at all costs. Despite not achieving his goal of being in the NHL, Cherry has had an impressive and lengthy career in both pro and semi-pro sports. In my opinion, hockey players of all ages should continue to view him as an iconic and tenacious personality in the world of hockey.
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