Hall of Fame debate: Don Cherry

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It is beyond ridiculous that Don Cherry is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

There, I said it.

Full disclosure: I worked at "Hockey Night in Canada" as part of the old "Hot Stove" second-intermission segment for six years. During that time, the legendary man who made the first intermission famous with "Coach’s Corner" was nothing but a gentleman to me.

So yes, I’m a little biased here.

But I can tell you I would feel the same way even if I had never met the guy.

The Case For

Don Cherry, "Coach’s Corner," "Hockey Night in Canada." They are staples of the soul of hockey. The impact that Grapes has had on our sport for decades from his pulpit at CBC is beyond measure.

At the heart of it all has always been Cherry’s care for youth hockey. He has spent more time in minor hockey rinks in the greater Toronto area than anyone alive. He has never forgotten about the grassroots of the sport.

Think about his impact decades ago when he urged minor hockey to put stop signs on the back of players’ sweaters in order to curb hitting from behind.

Think about his decades-old push for the elimination of the old icing rule for fear of dangerous injuries that had already wrecked some careers. The NHL finally listened.

I could go on and on, but Grapes and the sport of hockey are intertwined in so many ways that they are one.

The Case Against

Hey, I don’t agree with everything the man says and certainly not when it comes to fighting. I want fighting out of the game. Grapes loves a good tussle but more important believes that if fighting is totally banned, the dangerous stick offenders will go around unpoliced. We’ll agree to disagree on this subject. And that’s OK. His biggest detractors will point to his old-school penchant for the fisticuffs as a relic approach to the game.

Our Vote

It is beyond comprehension that Cherry is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame already. He should be in the builders category, no question about it. His impact has been felt from minor hockey all the way up to the NHL. The look on the faces of the top draft hopefuls every June when they meet Grapes during the Stanley Cup finals says it all. He remains a legend. Every hockey player alive wants to hear what he has to say.

Put him in the Hall. Now.

ESPN panel: 55 percent voted into Hockey Hall of Fame.