Don Cherry first NHL coach to allow women in locker room

Coach's Corner co-host Don Cherry. (Colin Tomchick/QMI Agency)
Coach’s Corner co-host Don Cherry. (Colin Tomchick/QMI Agency)

Don Cherry is certainly a walking contradiction.

It was revealed Tuesday by former New York Times reporter Robin Herman that the co-host of Coach’s Corner was the first National Hockey League coach to allow a female journalist in the dressing room.

During the 1975 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal Herman was allowed in the dressing room, although that was a one-time deal. Afterward, Cherry, then coach of the Boston Bruins, made it team policy to allow female reporters in the locker room.

“I was a 23-year-old kid in a tough situation. Getting prompt post-game interviews with the players was crucial to my ability to do my job. The Times was a morning newspaper, and I faced a draconian deadline of 11 p.m. I had maybe 40 minutes after the game ended, if I was lucky, to fax in a complete story,” Herman wrote in an ESPN blog post Tuesday.

“Every minute spent waiting for a team official to bring a player out of the locker room to speak to me separately in some dank hallway was excruciating.”

Cherry’s comment on Saturday’s Coach’s Corner that women shouldn’t be allowed in male dressing rooms coldcocked Herman.

“You were the first coach in the NHL to allow me, a female, accredited sports reporter and member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, into your locker room as a matter of policy,” she wrote. “You were coaching the ‘Big Bad Bruins,’ and it was ironic that a team with that reputation should be the most forward-thinking in the NHL.

“Your PR man par excellence, Nate Greenberg, had persuaded you this was the way to go. I was The New York Times’ reporter on the NHL beat, after all, and Nate knew his job was to get great coverage of the Bruins. He and you were gentlemen. And GM Harry Sinden, as gruff and penny-pinching as he was, also had a heart of gold and a sense of what was right. The times they were a-changin’ then, and the Bruins organization was smart enough to realize it. You should be proud of what you did.”

On Saturday, Cherry defended Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith after the blueliner made a flippant comment to a female reporter after his team’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks last Monday.

In a post-game interview, Team 1040 Radio’s Karen Thomson told Keith it looked like there was a slash by the defenceman that went undetected by the refs following a Daniel Sedin goal.

“Oh, no. I don’t think there was,” Keith said. “I think he scored a nice goal, and that’s what the ref saw. Maybe we should get you as a ref maybe, hey?

“First female referee. You can’t probably play either, right? But you’re thinking the game, like you know it? See ya.”

In Cherry fashion, the hockey pundit rushed to Keith’s aid.

“The male reporters went a little nuts and everything like that and now he’s a sexist and all that stuff,” he started out Saturday. “I don’t believe women should be in the male dressing room.”

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation has not released a statement regarding Cherry’s comment.

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