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Ken Reid

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Hockey Card Stories

Hockey Card Stories

True Tales from Your Favourite Players
also available: Audiobook Paperback
tagged : hockey
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DON CHERRY 1974-75 O-PEE-CHEE #161


No one tells Don Cherry how to dress. Well, okay, maybe someone does.

The man known as Grapes, who is beamed into television sets across Canada every Saturday night during the NHL season, can tell you exactly where he was when this fine photo was taken.

On June 13, 1974, the Boston Bruins held a press conference to announce that one Donald S. Cherry was the new head coach of Bobby Orr and the Bruins.

“It was a funny thing, Dick Williams was there. Remember Dick Williams the baseball guy? If ya took a picture of us, we looked alike. We both had the same mustache and the whole deal. So I always remember that as I had a nice blue suit on.” Yes, the blue suit went well with the ’stache. If you’re wondering about the ’stache, it didn’t last as long as the suit did.

“I had it for about two months and then I shaved it off. For luck,” says Cherry.

When it came to facial hair, Cherry could call his own shots. And as any living, breathing hockey fan knows, when it comes to style, Cherry also calls his own shots. Well, except when it came to his ’74–75 O-Pee-Chee; take a close look at the card—Cherry is dapper as always.

“It was a dark blue [suit] with a vest, and I wore a nice chain with it. The whole deal. So I looked pretty sharp.”

The hair is well groomed, as always. But as far as Cherry is concerned, one thing is not right on this card. It’s the tie. The tie still bothers Cherry after all these years. And it’s a double whammy.

Issue number one, the knot. “I cannot believe I had a knot that big in the tie!” But responsibility for the knot is all on Cherry. Let’s face it; big knots were in at the time.

It’s issue number two that’s the real kicker. Don Cherry says his tie was airbrushed. Imagine airbrushing a man who used ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” for his theme song when he hosted Grapevine? Cherry insists that’s what happened.

Nobody tells Don Cherry how to dress. “That’s right,” he says.

But the card makers did. When Don Cherry was introduced as the new head coach of the Boston Bruins, he says he showed up in a slick blue suit with a sharp blue tie. But that’s not how he is remembered on his ’74–75 OPC.

“One thing I remember when I look at the picture is that actually it was a blue tie. They painted a red tie, right? They changed it to the red tie,” says Cherry, who went on to coach 400 regular season games with the Bruins.

You can’t tell him how to dress, but you can change his clothes after the fact. But few can tell him what to say, and as Cherry recalls this card, he also recalls this press conference. As per usual, when he was on the mic, he rocked it from the start.

“You’re kind of nervous in the front of the Boston press and all that. And I remember the guy saying, ‘Do you think you’re ready for the Boston Bruins?’ and I said, ‘The question is, are the Boston Bruins ready for me?’” chuckles Cherry.

His relationship with the media in a different era is what comes to mind with this card. There were no 24-hour sports networks, no instant news via Twitter and the internet. It truly was a different time.

“That day I was hired I remember how good the Boston press was to a minor leaguer,” says Cherry, who was 40 years old the day the Bruins made him their head man. “They knew I was going to be good press for them. Somehow the writers and that know who’s going to be good when you go to a press conference, who’s going to be good material for them. And I remember they were kind to me right off the bat. And we kind of faltered in that first year and they still didn’t give it to me. That was the thing I remember.”

When Don Cherry was behind the Boston bench, he was in charge of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Wayne Cashman and a slew of other stars. Not bad for a guy who just a few years earlier was out of the game, looking for work. “I had no job or anything. And in three years I was coaching Bobby Orr. So I was always thank the Lord on that one.”

How life changed for Don Cherry that day is hard to describe. No, he never led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup, but what a time he had. Looking back now, he figures he’d change a few things.

“When I look at that card, I think, ‘You should have taken charge right off the bat.’”

But Cherry and his troops did bring one rough, tough style to the old Boston Garden. And the Bruins were good. Cherry took the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals twice during his five years in Boston. Cherry won the Jack Adams in 1975–76 as NHL’s coach of the year.

The rest, as they say, is history, and it’s his history and his old Bruins team that come to mind whenever Don Cherry sees this card. That, and the fact that someone changed the colour of his tie.

“The only thing I can think of when I look at that picture, to tell you the truth, is I look at that bloody tie . . . and they airbrushed it,” says Cherry, before conceding one final point. “Ya know, to tell you the truth, it looks better red. I have to admit.”




“They got a thousand pictures and they gotta use that one?”

That’s Orest Kindrachuk’s reaction when asked about this beauty. There are few cards like it. Kindrachuk’s gloves are off, his jersey is in a frazzled state and there’s blood under his left eye.

“I always say that blood was caused by a stick,” says the 5-foot10, 175-pound centre from the two-time Cup champion Broad Street Bullies. “I don’t know if it was or not. You know what, I don’t even remember who I fought in that game. For some reason I think it was against the Islanders. But as far as who I got in a fight with, I’m not sure I remember.”

A little detective work reveals that Kindrachuk was in five scraps during the ’76–77 season. Sure enough, one of them was against the Islanders’ André St. Laurent on Long Island.

“You know what, I think it was St. Laurent. He and I didn’t like each other,” recalls Kindrachuk. “On the ice there were players that I just hated . . . Win at all costs. Sorry, this is a living. This isn’t amateur. This is a living. You come into my house, you’re taking my mortgage.”

That attitude stayed with Kindrachuk during his entire 508 game NHL career. And it made for one fine specimen of a hockey card. Aside from his rough attitude, the card also shows off his splendid ’70s look.

“Back then everybody looked like a porn star. I mean, not just our team but take a look at the pictures back then: long hair, moustache, the whole bit.”

Kindrachuk famously revived his ’70s look at the 2012 Winter Classic. These days he is clean-shaven and has far less hair compared to back then. At the Winter Classic, Kindrachuk decided to give his old teammates, opponents and the Citizens Bank Park fans the “Back to the Future treatment” during the alumni game. His plan was to take to the ice looking like his 1970s self. All he needed to find was some hair and a moustache.

“My kids thought I was nuts; they came in for the game. They said, ‘Dad, you’re gonna really do that?’ I said, ‘Why not?’” Then Kindrachuk

delivers a classic line: “You know it’s not easy finding a wig. I’m not going to go spend 400 dollars on a wig for a gag.” Thankfully, there was no need to fork over that kind of cash. “I went into this store. I said to the guy this is what I need and he said I got something for ya. It was perfect; it was 20 bucks.”

“We were all getting ready to line up to go in to get introduced and I went into the can and put everything on and came walking out and it was pretty awesome.”

The gag was priceless. Kindrachuk exited his impromptu change room looking like a 1977 version of himself. The long hair and the beauty moustache worked oh-so-well. For some folks, it was a convincing look. “There are people that actually thought that was still my hair.” For the record, the hair for the moustache was trimmed off the wig and stuck on to Kindrachuk’s upper lip with double-sided tape.

“I was facing off against [Mark] Messier and he said, ‘That looked awesome.’”

The wig Kindrachuk sported on that January 2012 day in Philadelphia, just like the look on this card, recalls a magical time for the player: the days of the Broad Street Bullies, when the Flyers won two Cups in a row under the guidance of the legendary Fred Shero. Those were the days when Kindrachuk and the rest of the Flyers were Philadelphia royalty.

“In the ’70s, especially the early to mid-’70s, this city with the Flyers was rocking. It was just a great era for hockey in Philadelphia. The people were behind this. They saw a bunch of Canadian kids on a blue-collar team that would win at all costs. And nobody, I don’t believe, could ever out-work us. And I think that was what Philadelphia likes. It’s a blue-collar town and, boy, at the time we fit right into that mold. Freddie Shero used to have us on the ice at nine o’clock in the morning. He says, ‘You guys are going to work at nine just like everybody else.’ Nowadays how many practices do they have at nine o’clock on the ice? At nine o’clock in the morning?”

What the Flyers did on the ice was legendary. What the fans did off the ice was legendary as well. HBO did a fantastic job telling the story of the Flyers with their documentary Broad Street Bullies. The Stanley Cup parade scenes are incredible: hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of Philly. Kindrachuk loved the documentary, but he says HBO did skip over one part of the two parades that he will never forget.

“They didn’t show any of the streakers,” laughs Kindrachuk. Like the rest of the players, he rode in cars during the Flyers’ first parade. After their second Cup win in ’75, the Flyers got a much better view of the madness of the parade, and the streaking around them. The Flyers traded in cars for flatbed trucks.

“The second year we had a good view, we were up a little higher. I don’t remember how many [streakers] there were, but then I don’t think there was anything you could do wrong in Philadelphia, as a person at the parade or as a player. The city was crazy wild, but yet there was no damage, no looting, no anything. It was just a fun, wild parade.”

Kindrachuk wasn’t necessarily wild on the ice. His stats reveal he didn’t fight much, but if you got in his way, it was go time, no matter who you were, or what his odds were when he went up against you. “You do what you gotta do. You don’t back down, I don’t care who it is. I had a couple of fights with Terry O’Reilly and that was nuts because the first time I fought him I didn’t know he was left-handed.” How long did it take Kindrachuk to realize he was up against a southpaw? “Immediately,” he says.

“As a player you want to be remembered that you gave it your all every night and you could do whatever it takes to win. And if you do whatever it takes to succeed, good things will happen. Even if you don’t win, good things will happen.”

So, on second thought, for Kindrachuk, this ’77–78 O-Pee-Chee card almost perfectly sums up his on ice attitude and the Broad Street Bullies on-ice persona. “I start thinking ‘Oh my God, haven’t they got any better photographs?’ But now that I look at it, you know what, I think that’s what we were all about.”

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Hockey Card Stories 2

Hockey Card Stories 2

59 More True Tales from Your Favourite Players
also available: eBook
tagged : hockey, sports
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One Night Only

One Night Only

Conversations with the NHL’s One-Game Wonders
by Ken Reid
foreword by Jeff Marek
also available: Paperback
tagged : hockey
More Info
Dennis Maruk

Dennis Maruk

The Unforgettable Story of Hockey’s Forgotten 60-Goal Man
also available: Hardcover
tagged : hockey
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