Sunday, October 16, 2011

In praise of Don Cherry...

"Alain Rolland's decision to issue a red card was absolutely correct in law and in keeping with the clear instructions that match officials have received in recent years regarding dangerous tackling," said O'Brien. "Alain is a highly experienced referee and had a clear view of the incident, which enabled him to make an accurate and instant decision. Player welfare is paramount and unions, teams and match officials are all aware of the responsibility to eradicate dangerous play. This message was reiterated as recently as the week before Rugby World Cup 2011 kicked off, when we hosted briefings at a workshop with match officials and coaches."

Rugby World Cup 2011: IRB chief backs Alain Rolland on Wales red card
The Guardian, October 16, 2011 the bully pulpit.

Cherry is a theatrical genius, no way around it. He even appeared onstage at Stratford. Also, the NHL is show business, no way around that either, it's not a Greater Work in the Public Interest. In that capacity, as they say in show business, Cherry "puts bums on seats," which is more than you can say for Gary Bettman and the other white, homogenized Mom's Pie guys fronting for the NHL.

On the other hand, hockey is a fabulous game without fighting, as was obvious during the Olympics, and is an excellent spectator sport without the gratuitous violence of of the NHL at its most cheesy. If the Rugby World Cup - a very brutal contact sport - can get by without fighting, so can hockey. Rugby is so violent that fighting seems ludicrous: the violence is controlled by accepted rules, by which the players agree to be governed, and the rules are so frightening that only the skilled, strong, and courageous survive. In this context, fighting is just stupid, beneath contempt almost.

The problem with Cherry is he doesn't have a worthy opponent. I'm arguing for a confrontation between Shanahan and Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada. That'll put bums on seats.