I read Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories and Stuff last night. I’ve been meaning to pick it up for a read for quite some time – as often as I disagree with Cherry he’s an entertaining guy, and a guy who worked for everything he has now; when I read about him as a minor league player I see a life much tougher than my own, and for that matter much tougher than the lives of almost all the players these days.
It’s a wide-ranging book, with a stream of consciousness feel, and I’ll probably be referring to it off and on in my posts here. Today I want to refer to it because Cherry said something in it that I understand to some degree, and that I think Brownlee and Gregor would agree with too (more than me, for that matter – they’ve been doing similar work longer and in more places).
Here’s the excerpt:
I was out havin’ a couple of pops with a buddy after the 2008 playoffs and he said, “The playoffs have been over for five days and you’re still gettin’ ripped in the paper for not giving Sidney Crosby credit on ‘Coach’s Corner’ and praising Gary Roberts to the moon. Does it ever get you down?
I had to admit when I first started on TV, it really did get me down. As I told you before, my first rip job was from a reporter I admired and he did a real hatchet job on me. It was a beauty. It threw me off so much I really didn’t know if I could go back on TV.
But I bit the bullet and went back and did my best. And I found the longer I was on, the more I got ripped, the thicker my hide got.
If you’re going to give it out, you’ve got to be able to take it. As Harry Truman said, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
I’ve made some pretty ugly mistakes here and on my other site, and I’ve taken a beating for it. I’ve also said some things that I still believe, but run against conventional wisdom, and I’ve taken a beating for those too. But it’s fair, because after a while I started to realize that as much as I enjoyed interacting with all the people who comment on the articles, it wasn’t so important what everyone else thought of me as a writer – I needed to be confident in myself, not constantly seeking the approval of others.
Most of Cherry’s book is about his time as a coach or a player, but he does work some Hockey Night in Canada stuff in there too, including a few references to Ron MacLean. There’s one segment near the end that I really loved:
When we walk through the airports, people will holler, “Great show, Don,” and say nothing to [Maclean]. He just laughs.
People will ask for my autograph and not his, and my picture and not his. He really sincerely thinks it’s funny.
One time, a guy wanted to take a picture of me with his wife. Ron went to step in and the guy hollered, “Get out! You’re ruining the picture!”
Ron got the biggest kick out of that. I don’t think I could handle it the way he does but he has so much confidence in himself that it doesn’t bother him.
I don’t particularly enjoy being snubbed, or viewed in a poor light. But at the end of the day, what really matters is having confidence – in not only my work but also in myself- because not only is the crowd fickle but occasionally I’m going to make mistakes.
I don’t write this sort of thing very often because this is an Oilers’ website; I’m supposed to provide my take on the subject, not become the subject myself. Still, it’s been something I’ve wanted to say for some time, and reading Cherry’s account of something similar last night struck a chord with me.