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Outspoken, outrageous and at times outlandish - Don Cherry has been called many things during his 24 years with CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, but he's never been accused of being at a loss for words.

Don Cherry
Don Cherry

While he's best known for being the flamboyant yin to Ron MacLean's yang on the popular Coach's Corner segment, Cherry's long road to fame began more than 50 years ago.

A high school dropout from Kingston, Ontario, Cherry laced up with the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears in 1954 to begin what would be nearly a two-decade playing career. The 20-year-old rookie would jump to a number of minor league teams in the United States and Canada over the course of his 16 years on the ice, bringing his young family with him on more than 50 moves.

Despite his journeyman career, Cherry only played one game in the big leagues; a fill-in game for the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens during the 1955 playoffs. Tiring of the hockey life, Cherry retired in 1970. After working two years in construction and selling cars, he returned to play with the Rochester Americans in 1971. Not long after, he was hired on as a replacement for the club's coach, who had been fired mid-season.

Finding his stride, Cherry spent three years behind the bench before being promoted to head coach of the Boston Bruins in 1974. The Bruins finished first in their division four seasons in a row and Cherry was voted coach of the year in 1976, before being fired in 1979. He would go on to coach the Colorado Rockies for one unsuccessful season, before a fortuitous on-air appearance changed his life forever.

In 1980 a chance appearance on Hockey Night In Canada, across from host Dave Hodge, impressed CBC officials enough for them to create a platform for the bombastic ex-player and coach. The new segment, dubbed Coach's Corner, would go on to court both controversy and high ratings, as hockey fans rushed to their televisions to take in his singular mix of game analysis, cultural commentary and playful parrying with host Ron MacLean.

Cherry has parlayed his broadcast success into a line of popular videos, a chain of restaurants, a syndicated radio show and lucrative endorsements. In addition to these ventures he has spent the past year raising funds for Rose Cherry's Home for Kids, a hospice for terminally ill children. Named after his beloved wife, who died of cancer in June 1997, Don Cherry has passionately campaigned for the Milton, Ontario hospice both on and off the air.

Controversial and contentious, whatever some may think of Don Cherry he has earned himself an indelible place as a Canadian icon.

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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.
Did you know Did you know
Cherry set his words to music in a dance single with Toronto-based electronic group BKS.
Interactive Timeline Timeline
An interactive timeline of events for Don Cherry
CBC Archives CBC Archives
Explore audio and video clips about the life of Don Cherry.
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