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Even the most obnoxious person can be right.
Some people will self-flagellate before admitting an enemy is correct, because looking foolish is apparently preferable to making concessions. So instead of embarrassing themselves in this manner, it’s better for those unable to stomach Don Cherry to admit he was right about Tomas Hertl and his dazzling goal against New York last week.
A fair summary of Cherry’s analysis is as follows: when an opponent is soundly beaten, as New York was by San Jose, there is no need to humiliate them further with hot-dogging. That is what young Hertl did, likely unintentionally, when he became the youngest player since 1988 to score four goals in one game.
I say “likely unintentionally” because Hertl is a 19-year-old rookie from the Czech Republic; a country at the center of a European continent where flamboyant soccer celebrations reign. Hertl is a kid and doesn’t know any better, something that Cherry, in a surprising interval of reasonableness, made clear while avoiding his typical miasmic criticism of European hockey culture.
Cherry shocked his critics further when he stated that if the game were tied or otherwise close, the goal would have been just a beauty and not an insulting one. “What if this was your brother? What if this was your son?” was a melodramatic way for Cherry to lament the mortification of Rangers goalie, Martin Biron. But generally, Cherry reacted just the way a thoughtful appraiser of hockey would be expected to.
It’s doubtful Cherry supporters themselves would describe the man as a “thoughtful appraiser.” His appeal, totally lost on me, comes from his provincial, traditionalist attitude toward the game.
Observant people should remember that the old conflicts with the new; right conflicts with left; dark conflicts with light, but that which conflicts can also instruct, and subjective antagonists indirectly ally with subjective protagonists all the time.
Gore Vidal hated William Buckley, but both wanted to end the drug war.
Ronald Reagan thought the USSR was an evil empire, but so did Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler.
The phrases “a stopped watch is right twice a day” and “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” express similar sentiments. I’m stating well-known truths here, but knowing something intellectually is different than understanding. Truisms from people who cause our skin to crawl and blood to boil can make us understand, truly and deeply understand, that wisdom can come from anyone.
The quantity of wisdom coming from someone is a separate question, especially, when Cherry is involved. Godwin’s Law states that all heated conversations will involve Hitler or some other villain. You will notice the law’s application when people imply your sympathy for monsters and announce, “that’s what so-and-so said!”
Cherry is obnoxious, but not a monster, and while it’s inconvenient that obnoxious people can be right, it is true, nonetheless.
I began my career in hockey as a pre-scout for Cranbrook Kingswood Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I have been writing about the NHL for multiple platforms since the 2007-2008 season.