WARMINGTON: Grapes tells NHL players to dress for success not a BBQ

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When it comes to NHL hockey players arriving for a game, Don Cherry expects them to look like a million bucks.

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Make that ten million.

“When you are making $10 million bucks, you should dress like $10 million,” he says, responding to recent images of Maple Leafs’ players arriving at the rink dressed casually without traditional jacket and tie.

The coach specifically called out superstar Auston Matthews, who he teased was “looking like he was going to a barbecue.”

On his Grapevine podcast and in our interview, Cherry rejected the idea that younger players are looking for a new way of dressing by saying he wants to keep the NHL as the only league that consistently dresses up before games.

But Grapes knows not everybody agrees — reminding he once said the Ottawa Senators jackets made them “look like a bunch of thugs.”

It didn’t go over well in the Capital.

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Hey, anything is possible. Hockey Night in Canada is not exactly tearing up the ratings charts without Cherry and there is a thing called forgiveness that works too. Grapes, after all, has had plenty of tussles over the years — even with me.

We’ve been friends for almost 40 years but there was a time in 2010 when he was even angrier at me than he was with MacLean. It was over a column I wrote in 2010 about being kettled in the rain after the G20 at Spadina Ave. and Queen St. W. that was ultra critical. Seems Don was not amused and called me to express that.

He told me, “if you are against the police, you are against me,” and “don’t ever call me again.”

Hockey commentator Don Cherry and Sun columnist Joe Warmington in Mississauga, Ont., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.
Hockey commentator Don Cherry and Sun columnist Joe Warmington in Mississauga, Ont., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Photo by Ernest Doroszuk /Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

Of course, I was never against the police and would never want to upset Cherry. But it showed his loyalty to the police and troops and I respect that. Eventually Chief Bill Blair and I shook hands. And a few months later, Don took me off the bench and put me back on the ice.

The moral of the story is staying mad at people you respect over one disagreement is never the way to go. Don and I got over our feud. Matthews has already started to dress a little better. And Ron MacLean? Well, the ball’s in his court, or the puck is on his stick.

If it does happen, one thing is for sure, Grapes will expect him to be dressed well for the occasion.

jwarmington@postmedia.com

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