The rumors of Don Cherry's demise may have been premature.
On Saturday we reported on a pair of rumors floating around in Toronto regarding the future of iconic hockey broadcaster Don Cherry. The rumors began when veteran Toronto journalist Steve Simmons reported that he had began to hear rumblings that Cherry's contract had not been renewed amid massive cutbacks from Sportsnet.
One thing that hasn’t been confirmed for the next season of Hockey Night In Canada: the return of Don Cherry and Coach’s Corner. Rogers is cutting all over the place, which included the removal of Bob McCown on radio and television and Doug MacLean doing the same. Cherry is handsomely compensated for his work. Not sure if this is a place they want to go with the 85-year-old.
That on it's own was merely a hint that there could be a big change on the horizon for Cherry, but the report from Simmons triggered another source to come out with information of their own. TorontoSportsMedia.com, an organization that specializes in reporting on all things behind the scenes in Toronto Sports Media, had information from their own sources that painted things in a much darker light for Cherry.
From Toronto Sports Media:
Of all the names we heard that were going to be cut at Sportsnet HNIC, Donald S. Cherry was #1. Numerous sources told us that Grapes knew himself last year was his worst ever & with the need to cut costs Paramount we were told he had done his last game.
The news obviously made massive headlines on Saturday. primarily because Toronto Sports Media's reporting is always spots on, but it seems that the talk of Cherry's demise may have been premature. According to comments from the Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington it sounds like Cherry is going nowhere, or at the very least it sounds like that is what Cherry believes. Warmington communicated with Cherry following the Simmons report and was reportedly told there was “no credence” to the report by Graps himself.
“I am not leaving,” said Cherry. “I got a call on a Sunday from Bart Yabsley who took over from Scott Moore saying that."
To be entirely fair to Simmons here he only reported that Cherry's return had not been confirmed, not that Cherry would not return. As for Toronto Sports Media it has to be said that they also added to their report from Saturday, indicating that 3 key sponsors may in fact be applying pressure to Rogers to keep Cherry on board.
I've been told there are specific HNIC sponsors tied to Cherry that would make the axe difficult. I can't believe he doesn't get the swan song as Cole did. But time will tell as it will with other "talent" names who we have yet to have confirmation on...
There is certainly a lot to unpack here and through all of this I still have not heard any kind of official statement suggesting that Cherry will in fact remain a part of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. It will be interesting to see if Rogers respond to all the commotion this has caused over the last 24 hours or so.