TORONTO - Hockey personality Don Cherry called three former NHL tough guys "pukes" for speaking out against fighting Thursday on the season's first edition of CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada."
Speaking on his popular "Coach's Corner" segment, Cherry called out former enforcers 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."
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."
Nilan amassed 3,043 penalty minutes over his 688-game NHL career. Grimson had 2,113 minutes in 729 games and Thomson 416 minutes in 115 games.
Nilan responded to Cherry's comments on his Twitter account.
"Let's get it straight right here and now, I never said that players who were fighters were prone to alcoholism and drug abuse," he posted.
"I guess those who can't play coach, or just had a show called coaches corner. pretty sad he has to say that to get ratings. Guess he see's the writing on the wall with CBC losing market share to Bell and TSN."