I am still recovering from last night’s Ottawa-Pittsburgh hockey broadcast – not the game itself, during which the Senators performed for two periods like professional hockey players and one period like a drunken squad of obese broomballers, but rather the Coach’s Corner feature with Don Cherry. Did you see it? No? Oh, you have to see it.
You have to.
(And you can, by clicking here – move ahead to about 5:55 into the clip.)
Coach’s Corner concluded with Don introducing some footage of Boston forward Marc Savard. The video showed Savard on the Bruins’ bench. He was staring at the blade of his stick. Then there was footage from a different game, but with Savard looking very much the same – again he was on the bench, again he was staring rather intently at the blade as he twirled his stick slowly in his hands.
Okaaaaay. Where exactly are you doing with this, Don?
Then came the answer. The horrible, horrible answer.
Don ordered the tech guys to roll the video clips again, so he could tell us what Savard was saying to his stick as he stared at it.
You heard me. Don Cherry was going to tell us what a professional hockey player – who, for the record, did not appear to be moving his lips – was saying to his hockey stick.
My family room fell silent, partly mesmerized, partly terrified. OK, mostly terrified. Was this actually happening? Apparently it was because –
“I love you,” Cherry said, softly.
Again, just to be clear – we’re seeing video of Marc Savard staring at his stick and hearing Don Cherry tell us what he thinks Savard is saying. To his stick. Which is a thing.
“I love you,” Cherry continued, gently. “I’m going…” – and here, for the record, we find ourselves in the middle of the sentence that prompted me to quite literally drop my beverage – “I’m going to stroke you.”
This touching sonnet concluded with Don Cherry using the public airwaves to instruct “all you kids out there” to run out to the family car, fetch their hockey sticks from the trunk and – sweet Mary, I can barely type the words – “take them in your bedrooms and love them.” Love your sticks, kids. Stroke them.
An aside: I’m not sure how much Ron MacLean earns these days – is it $400,000? Half a mil? All I know is that the man deserves a hefty Somehow Keeping a Straight Face bonus. Seriously, give the man $10,000. Give him $25,000. He earned it last night.
At one point you can hear MacLean chuckle a bit, and shortly afterward he offers a wry, “Got it, I understand” to Cherry’s erotic soliloquy, but anyone who can refrain from fleeing into the night or jabbing a sedative-filled syringe into the arm of the 74-year-old man who’s sweet-talking an inanimate object on national television clearly possesses formidable reserves of broadcasting skill and human fortitude.
Not only that, but MacLean managed to get off a decent line at the end of the segment: “Going to bed with my Sher-wood tonight.” Which led to the best part of the whole thing: Don replied, “Not touching that one!” As if Ron had been the first in the segment to utter a phrase with a sexual connotation.
Yes, that was the problem with this segment, Don: Ron’s pun. There was no way at all to read an alternative meaning into you instructing the children of the nation to go into their bedrooms and stroke their wood. No way at all.
In the next Coach’s Corner: Don’s advice to the youth of Canada on what to do about all those splinters.