Don Cherry collides violently with an epiphany – no fighting

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Don and Ron may be gone. But Cherry states, he hates those spates. Photo courtesy of


Dandy Don says fighting in hockey must go

By Terrance Gavan

(Yes of course it is. Parse the first letter of each paragraph. Then if you still haven’t figured it out. Rearrange the letters of Swami …   Prila Sofol.)

A well-known writer with ties to the CBC and Hockey Night in Canada tells us – confidentially – that Don Cherry is rethinking his stand on fighting in theNHL.

“Perhaps this has something to do with a clandestine meeting he had last weekend with a renowned Buddhist cleric,” says my source, who has asked for anonymity because he is currently writing a feature story for the New York Times about Cherry’s epiphany. He says news of the startling change in game plans came via a phone call from Cherry himself. “Deepak Chopra and I both write for the Huffington Post – different topics of course – and Deepak is friends with Dandy’s guru. Deepak apparently told Cherry to get in touch with me after he had heard from his guru friend about Cherry’s decision to go public with his change of heart,” says my source.

“Right now? I’m flabbergasted, and I really don’t know how to frame this. Don told me that recent incidents in New York, where six guys all dropped their gloves in a sickeningly stereotypical staged fight, and the ongoing issue with concussions and the recent spate of enforcer suicides have convinced him, with help of his Buddhist mentor, that fighting is, well, just plain wrong.”

I asked my insider if Cherry was actually reevaluating his stand on fighting because of a recent rumour dispatched from CBC that the mothership intended to ditch both he and co-host Ron MacLean from the Hockey Night in Canada telecast.

“Look, Cherry has enough bucks stashed away to retire any time he wants,” says my source. “I really think that this conversion crap is for real. I know for a fact that he’s set up a prayer rug and a statue of Buddha in a walk-in closet that he converted to a meditation room. Deepak and I have both been there and I’m not only working on the feature for the Times, but I’m obviously lobbying like hell to get the book rights on this baby.”

For the record, I did a little digging and found that Cherry’s Buddhist mentor is named Prila Sofol and he studied for 30 years at a Tibetan monastery. Sofol was charged with sedition and was chased out ofTibetin 2005 during a Chinese pogrom. Sofol was part of an intransigent group of Buddhist monks who were arguing for Tibetan self rule. There is a price on his head and a death sentence awaits him if he returns toTibet. He studies and teaches at a small monastery on the far outskirts of trendyTorontoin a small cottage community.

“Oh, I know that Mr. Cherry is, shall we say, a bit of a wildcard,” smiles Sofol, who was born in Britain, and educated at Oxford before heading stateside where he earned his PhD in religious studies at Harvard. He was at that old Ivy League rowing club during Brian Burke’s tenure at Harvard law, but Sofol says the two did not socialize.

“Ostentatious displays of rowdy self-aggrandizing puffery and a general lack of morals never appealed to me,” smiles Sofol, squinting into thenoonday sun on a Muskoka dock. “Thus I was never enamored of the law or lawyers in general. I think – although it is impolitic of me as a practicing Buddhist to say – that Shakespeare was right about barristers.

“Look,” says Sofol, suddenly serious. “Don Cherry came to me with sincerity and I know very well that you and your ilk – sportswriters and pundits – believe this to be some idle sojourn for Donald, who I call Tacka Beria. Tacka being our god of soft words and wise choices. He has eschewed the sweet science for self knowledge. And he has made me a promise to remove all vestige of violence from hockey before he passes to his next dimension.

Sofol and my inside source tell me that Cherry’s campaign against fighting in hockey begins on Saturday during his Coach’s Corner segment. It begins with mea culpa and ends with “Ohhhhhhhhhmmmm!” Get your popcorn ready.