Updates: Don Cherry Incident and the Hockey-Military Relationship

It has been less than a week since Don Cherry’s tirade against, amongst other targets, ex-fighters who have spoken out against the role of fisticuffs in hockey. But it has not taken long for this story to create considerable fallout for the Coach’s Corner star and for the CBC. Some highlights:

  • Within 24 hours of the broadcast, Chris Nilan and Stu Grimson, two of the three players labelled by Cherry as “pukes” and turncoats,” spoke out about the verbal attack. [Puck Daddy]
  • Cherry appeared on Coach’s Corner on Saturday, refusing to apologize for his comments and reaffirming his pro-fighting stance. The CBC bizarrely spoke out in support of both Cherry and player safety. [The Globe and Mail]
  • Yesterday, Montreal newspaper The Gazette reported that Grimson, Nilan and Jim Thomson are considering a lawsuit against Cherry. The story has since been updated to confirm that the players have consulted with a US law firm and are considering legal action. [The Gazette]
  • Thomson appeared today on The Globe and Mail for a live webchat about Cherry’s comments and fighting in hockey. [The Globe and Mail]

There are many, many more opinions circulating in the mainstream media and the blogosphere. For an overview of the entire sequence of events, beginning with Cherry’s rant on Thursday, I recommend checking out Stu Hackel‘s piece for SI.com.

Meanwhile, further to my initial post about the connection between hockey and militarism, an interesting insight into the efforts of the Toronto Maple Leafs – the most popular and profitable NHL franchise – to link themselves with the Canadian military. From The Globe and Mail:

The plan was for the Leafs to take Sunday off and then head for the Canadian military base in Trenton, Ont., on Monday morning for three days of training with the Canadian armed forces when they are not on the ice at a local arena. This diversion . . . is the latest step in the Leafs’ connection with the Canadian armed forces.

At every Leafs home game, a member of the military is recognized publicly as part of a campaign with Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn known as Luke’s Troops. Last July, Leafs general manager Brian Burke went to Kandahar, Afghanistan, even though it was the opening day of the NHL free-agent market because he wanted to salute the Canadian troops at the end of their mission.

Unfortunately the article does not delve further into this topic nor does it offer any analysis of the Leafs’ relationship building with the military. As mentioned previously, Hockey in Society will have much, much more on this in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, it is fascinating to see such relatively minor – but politically significant – incidents occurring.

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