I notice that someone today reached this blog while googling “in defence of Don Cherry.” Although I’m happy someone read my jokey post, I would be remiss in my duties as blog proprietor if I were not looking to help the people who come to our blog. So, let me help you intrepid interneteer: you’re looking for this thing. I think E. makes many good points defending Cherry (and to say I’m a fan of the writing style is by this point cliché). But I don’t agree that Don Cherry is somehow vital or actual. I don’t enjoy Coach’s Corner much because I can roughly guess what he’s gonna talk about and exactly what he’s gonna say about it. Sure, if Cherry disappeared from the air, I’d be sad, but in a way totally abstracted from my life and things I actually enjoy. Cherry’s departure would be like being told Newfies now speak like Albertans. Or like a tourist landmark that you don’t actually think is interesting or good, but would still be sad if your city lost (e.g. Space Needle in Seattle).
But even though I’m not big on Cherry’s opinions in general, on the latest controversy – Cherry complaining that the Maple Leafs don’t have any Ontarians on their roster – he’s actually completely right. Sports teams offer, I would say more than anything, a sense of place. It’s the team’s bond with a city and its fans. It’s the reason there’s a parade when a team wins a championship (or in Hartford’s case, second round). It’s what everyone instinctively understands when they say hockey is better suited to Winnipeg than Atlanta. It’s why the Knickerbockers are a better team name than the Rangers. It’s the feeling Goldy evokes in his (in my view misguided) brief for a new arena in Seattle. It’s why “picking” a premier league or serie ‘A’ or la liga team to cheer for is a move either for clueless bros or for mirthless snobs. The link between a team and its place is something that we celebrate. It’s a link we cultivate and nurture, a hometown pride. Why are the Leafs shunning that by not having any Ontarians? After all, as Cherry points out, it’s not like it would be that hard. And, as E. snarks, it’s not like they’ve forsaken Ontarianness in the quest for robot-like optimization. They just don’t care. For that matter, although I’m glad the Nucks have Hamhuis, I think they should be doing more (although dear God I hope they don’t ever take Lucic). The team is about its community. Embrace the community on the ice as well as off. Or else go cheer for Tampa Bay.