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Cherry BOMBS
Leigh Montville
March 29, 1993
Don Cherry, part Rush Limbaugh and Part Dick Vitale, is loud, abrasive, volatile-and the most popular television personality in Canada
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March 29, 1993

Cherry Bombs

Don Cherry, part Rush Limbaugh and Part Dick Vitale, is loud, abrasive, volatile-and the most popular television personality in Canada

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Ka-boom! Ka-ka-ka-boom?

Cherry's friends worry about him. Mellanby, now working with the planning committee for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, says he is glad he no longer is in charge at Hockey Night in Canada. He would not want to be the one who eventually will have to deal with Cherry's future. Cherry is beating on the two themes too much, the foreigners and the fighting. He is moving into politics too often. Something will happen. Cherry has a deal with MacLean. I don't tell him [MacLean] what I'm going to say.... I don't want him to go down with me when it all blows apart." This is all right with MacLean. He has his own career.

"I was thinking about Don the other night," MacLean said recently. "I went to the movies and saw A Few Good Men. Every time Jack Nicholson came onto the screen, I thought about Don. Nicholson's character was exactly the same. Rules didn't matter. Everything was the Code. When they were carrying Nicholson out at the end, kicking and fighting, that's how I always thought Don would go out. In a ball of fire."

Cherry mostly just keeps going. He would like to slow down, like to stop, as Rose wants him to do, but says he doesn't know how. He hasn't had a vacation in his adult life. He owns a cottage on Wolf Island in Ontario, but he was there for only two days last year. He owns a boat, but it hasn't been in the water in two years. The craziness keeps him too busy.

He sits in the basement den of his modest house in Mississauga, Ont., a suburb of Toronto. Except for the money he spends on his clothes, he is not an extravagant man. He does have three Lincoln Mark VIs, but all of them are at least 10 years old. He says he likes them because they are like him, "a little ostentatious, a little old, but still going." He says he doesn't do much, outside of the work. He sits here a lot, watching hockey games on the giant-screen TV. He has the satellite dish. He can watch a lot of games.

He is eating a tuna fish sandwich. At his feet is his dog. This is a new dog, Baby Blue. The original Blue, the beloved dog, died four years ago. The original Blue was a trusted warrior. Her blue eyes were supposed to be a defect, but Cherry always thought they were a sign of strength. The original Blue was the toughest, meanest, bravest' dog a man could find. Cherry doesn't like this new dog very much. He says, "If an intruder came, Baby Blue probably would try to kiss him to death."

The new dog is trying to lick tuna fish from Cherry's plate. He shoos her away.

"This dog," he says. "We took her to the opening of one of the bars. In Oshawa. We're there a little while, and she's all tired. Falling asleep. We had to leave early, take her home."

"Don," Rose says. "The dog was walking on top of the bar. The people were feeding her drinks. Everyone was giving her beer. The dog was drunk."

"You think?" Cherry says.

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