Don Cherry was born February 5, 1934 in Kingston, Ont. to parents Del and Maude.
Cherry credits his father with inspiring his trademark personal style. Del, an
amateur athlete and electrician with Canada Steamship Lines, was known for his
made-to-measure three-piece suits, gold watch, cigarette holder and Homburg
hat, which Cherry remembers as looking
"Sensational." "I get chills describing him," he told The Globe and Mail in
March 2002. "I was proud walking down the street with him. You knew he was
somebody; he turned heads."
Rose, his wife of 40 years, died in 1997 following a lengthy battle with liver
cancer. In addition to being the love of his life Rose helped guide Cherry to
success by serving as his agent, manager, secretary and personal banker. In
2003 he began fundraising for "Rose Cherry's Home for Kids", a hospice for
terminally ill children in Milton, Ontario. The centre had its grand opening in
September 2004 and is expected to serve 350 families a year.
Don Cherry's two children, Cindy and Tim, help him run many of his various
businesses and charity projects.
National Hockey League Hall-of-Famer Bobby Orr is another well-known passion of
Cherry's that stretches back to his coaching duties with the Boston Bruins. It was
there that the defenseman's swift skating and deft stick handling endeared him to
Blue, Cherry's English bull terrier, has become almost as famous as the man
himself. Originally a gift from his Bruins players, the feisty pup made high-profile
appearances on both Hockey Night in Canada and his popular Rock'Em Sock'Em Hockey
videos. The original Blue died in 1989, though another "Blue" has been at Cherry's
side ever since.
The most notorious moment of Cherry's career came in during the 1979 Stanley Cup
playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens. His Bruins' squad was winning 4-3 in the
last period of the decisive game of the series when they were penalized for having
too many men on the ice. With 74 seconds to go Guy Lafleur scored for Montreal
sending the game into overtime, where the Canadiens sealed the victory. Montreal
would go on to win the Cup and Cherry would be fired as Boston's head coach.
Cherry's outrageous attire is the only thing that can be accused of being louder
than the man himself. His trademark look includes custom made shirts with triple-
thick cotton and 3 ½-inch collars, flashy silk ties, Italian shoes and the ever-present
double-breasted suits (he claims to have never worn a single-breasted suit jacket
in his life). Other accessories include leather gloves and lots of jewellery - cuff
links, stickpins and gold tie bars.
"I must admit," he said once, "My style has been called foppish, but I like it. I heard
on the radio that I looked like a gay because everything was so clean and neat and all
jewellery. Love it!"
In 1992 Cherry set his words to music in a dance single with Toronto-based electronic
group BKS. His contribution to Puck Rock, called "Rock'Em Sock'Em Techno", yielded
such classic lines as "Probert, Probert, what a man. We see him it's slam-bam."
In September 2001 Cherry returned to the bench, taking over as head coach of the
Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga IceDogs. The team, of which he was part-owner,
had just come off a bleak season in which they won only three of their 68 games
played. The squad scored only a marginally improved record with Cherry at the helm
(11 - 47), but rebounded under new head coach Greg Gilbert in 2003 with a playoff-worthy
36 wins and 21 losses.
Though Cherry is no longer coach of the IceDogs, his dog still serves as the
inspiration for the teams mascot "Blue".
Over the years, Cherry's candid opinions have drawn the ire of many people, hockey
fans or not. Whether it's his swipes at "Chicken Swedes" and European players in
general, or his disdain for so-called "hotshot" players his views never fail to court
In March 2003 he weighed in on the debate over the U.S.-led war with Iraq, criticizing
the Canadian government for their "lack of support to our American friends." Wearing a
sparkling U.S. flag tie, he apologized to the U.S. people and berated Ron MacLean for
his anti-war sentiments. The rant generated viewer outrage and an official disavowal by
His January 24, 2004 on-air comments about visors being for "Europeans and French guys"
stirred up the pot once again, with several Francophone groups calling for his
resignation. It also prompted CBC to implement a seven-second delay during the live
Coach's Corner broadcast to help weed out any offensive comments. Independent studies
subsequently proved him correct, though the controversy remains.
Spurred on by his wife and others, Cherry has translated his notoriety into a veritable
industry. He has lent his name to a successful series of hockey highlights videos, two
volumes of hockey-themed music CDs, 19 Don Cherry's Grapevine restaurants and sports
bars, a syndicated radio talk show and numerous celebrity endorsements.
Of the importance of hockey in his life, he told The Globe and Mail in 2001: "I don't
have any hobbies. I don't golf. I don't fish. I have no other interests in life except
hockey. I wake up in the morning thinking about it and go to bed thinking about
it. This is where I belong."
< Back to Don Cherry's Bio