Hockey icon Don Cherry was born in his beloved Kingston, Ontario on February 5, 1934. Cherry played his junior career with the Windsor Spitfires and the Barrie Flyers then turned pro with the Hershey Bears in 1954-55.
Cherry spent that season with the Bears, but got a chance to join the NHL's Boston Bruins during the '55 playoffs, playing just one game.
After his stint with the B's, Cherry returned to the minors for the next fifteen seasons. He bounced around the minors patrolling bluelines for nine different minor-pro clubs. With a very respectable workman-like career as a player behind him following his retirement in 1969, Cherry began working in construction but soon missed the game and made a comeback in 1971, returning to the defence of the Rochester Americans. By mid-season, Cherry was coaching the club and though criticized for being too friendly with the players he excelled as a coach and was named Coach of the Year in 1972.
With this success under his belt, Cherry embarked on the second stage of his hockey career and returned to Boston in 1974, this time as the club's head coach. Cherry was an instant success in Beantown, leading the team to four straight division titles. In 1976, Cherry won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top bench boss. He also joined the coaching staff of the victorious Team Canada in the '76 Canada Cup.
Cherry's career in Boston hit a major speed bump in 1979. In a playoff series versus the Montreal Canadiens, a too-many men on the ice penalty allowed the Canadiens back into a game the Bruins seemed certain to win. When Yvon Lambert scored in overtime, Cherry's fate was sealed and he was let go at season's end.
Cherry didn't miss a beat and was coaching again the next season, but being hired as the head coach of the woeful Colorado Rockies was a thankless task, and after they stumbled to a last place finish, Cherry was fired again.
In 1980, Cherry made an appearance on Hockey Night in Canada, and a third, unlikely stage of his hockey career began. Cherry would continue his appearances, on a feature called "Coach's Corner" and rapidly grew in popularity. Cherry embraced controversy with his tell-it-like-it-is style and his distaste for European players and constant praise of tough hockey and the violence of the sport.
His first intermission musings quickly became a must-see for Canadian hockey fans and Cherry soon launched a television show called the Grapevine, a chain of restaurants, and a successful series of videos featuring hockey highlights and his trademark banter.
In 1997, Cherry purchased an Ontario Hockey League expansion franchise, the Missausaga Ice Dogs, and ruffled some feathers when he mandated that the team would only ice Canadian born players, refusing to allow imports to play for his club.
However, when the club stumbled badly its first few seasons, he was forced to back off his no-import policy and soon, with criticism mounting and the losses piling up on the ice, Cherry surprised many with his announcement that he would assume the coaching duties of the Ice Dogs for the 2001-02 campaign.
Cherry's longtime wife, Rose, passed away in 1997 which resulted in the formation of the Rose Cherry Home a hospice center for sick children.