Don Cherry vs. The Old Goons: The Least Exciting Fight of Their Careers

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Don Cherry vs. The Old Goons: The Least Exciting Fight of Their Careers
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Don Cherry said something controversial? Shocker it took so long into the season for this to happen.

What would an NHL season be without some rants and raves from hockey's favorite mouthpiece? It'd probably be about as exciting as watching a family debate at the Lindros household. Cherry's rants for the hockey community are like tequila for Canucks fans: They add fire and excitement, and often cause significant damage.

Cherry's most recent escapade once again revolved around the issue of fighting in hockey. From his soapbox on Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry criticized the comments of former goons Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson, calling them "pukes" for not standing up for the skill that earned them pay cheques game after game and season after season during each of their careers. Cherry's criticism was as sharp as rusty old skates, as delicate as a Todd Bertuzzi sucker punch. He ranted, offended, got some barbs in and called it a night, likely returning home to decide which magic eye optical illusion suit he'd wear for his next TV appearance.

Surely we all expected the media attention his comments received, especially in Canada, where hockey headlines are eaten up quicker than the Rangers' salary cap every offseason. What was unexpected, however, was the reaction from the three ex-NHLers Cherry mentioned. Of course these former fighters were expected to respond, after all it was never in their nature to back away from a fight, but it's how they responded that really surprised me. Standing by your comments and attacking your accuser is one thing, but threatening legal action? That's the equivalent of running to the teacher when someone makes fun of you on the playground in elementary school.

Grimson began the talk of legal action, stating, "we're considering all alternatives, including legal recourse, of course, given the nature of Don's comments." It seems that Grimson not only found God outside hockey, but also a thesaurus. However, such action seems really out of character for this bunch of hard-hitting veterans, especially because it seems that they really have no legal leg to stand on. Are they considering Cherry's statements to be slanderous? This doesn't seem to hold up. The definition of slander is as follows:

"A malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report."

The definition proposed by the aging fighters, however, appears to be the following:

"A mean man said bad things about me that made me angry and a little sad."

Come on guys, get real. Engage in debate about the sport we love like the rest of us, don't tarnish the tough reputation you've built by whining when someone criticizes your opinion. 

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