Three former NHL enforcers are threatening legal action against Don Cherry for comments he made last week on television.
During a “Coach’s Corner” segment on Oct. 6, Cherry called out Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson for suggesting that NHL players who fight are prone to substance abuse.
The comments come after three former NHLers known for fighting died over the summer.
“The ones that I am really disgusted with … are the bunch of pukes that fought before: Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson,” an animated Cherry said.
“(They say) ‘Oh, the reason that they’re drinking, (taking) drugs and alcoholics is because they’re fighting.’ You turncoats, you hypocrites. If there’s one thing I’m not it’s a hypocrite. You guys were fighters, and now you don’t want guys to make the same living you did.”
On Monday, Grimson, Nilan and Thomson issued the following joint statement via the Nashville, TN-based law firm of Kay, Griffin, Enkema & Colbert:
"During CBC’s broadcast of Coach’s Corner on October 6, 2011, Don Cherry inserted himself into a prominent debate involving the recent tragic deaths of three (3) NHL players, drug addiction, alcohol abuse and mental illness. In doing so, Mr. Cherry targeted the above-named individuals, some of whom have suffered from such diseases, as a result of views they previously expressed.
Mr. Cherry’s comments were more than inappropriate; they were baseless and slanderous. Furthermore, Mr. Cherry’s subsequent attempt to qualify his comments on October 8, 2011, was entirely ineffectual. Mr. Cherry’s conduct throughout has demonstrated a complete lack of decency.
In light of the damaging and inflammatory nature of Mr. Cherry’s comments, Messrs. Grimson, Nilan and Thomson are considering further recourse."
Cherry also lashed out at anti-fighting advocates in general, saying the summer deaths of former tough guys Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak were used as a soapbox for their arguments.
“You people that are against fighting, you should be ashamed of yourselves,” Cherry said. “You took advantage of that to make your point on fighting.”
Speaking to HOCKEY CENTRAL on Tuesday, Grimson expressed his dissapointment with Cherry’s comments.
"We (all three) were really taken back by the comments, the nature of the comments, the tone they were offered in and the form in which they were said. I think there was this element in it for us also; you know that after the Thursday broadcast, Don and Ron go into a Saturday broadcast quite quickly. I think the three of us were probably curious to what; if anything Don would say to qualify, retract or perhaps apologize."
With files from Canadian Press