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DON CHERRY

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 Coach Cherry.

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 controversy.

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 CBC management.

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."

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The Advocate
Bret Hart Bret Hart
Wrestling legend Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart steps into a new ring to take on the nine other Advocates on behalf of Don Cherry.
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