Outspoken icon has AHL roots

As part of the American Hockey League’s 70th anniversary this season, theahl.com will be taking a look at some of the legendary careers that have been carved in the AHL over the last seven decades.

Before embarking on a legendary broadcasting career that has made him one of the most recognized personalities in Canada, Don Cherry was an established defenseman and later head coach in the American Hockey League.

Cherry was a 20-year-old rookie for the Hershey Bears in 1954-55, and at the end of the season earned a one-game recall to the Boston Bruins during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It would prove to be Cherry’s only taste of NHL action.

After two more seasons with the Bears, Cherry latched on with the Springfield Indians, helping them to a Calder Cup championship in 1960. He continued to bounce around between several teams in and several leagues, returning to the AHL with the Rochester Americans in 1963.

Cherry was a steady presence on the Rochester blue line for the next six seasons, claiming three more Calder Cup titles. He retired in 1969, but came back to the Americans during the 1971-72 season, and was soon named a mid-season replacement for head coach Doug Adam.

Cherry righted the ship in Rochester, guiding the Amerks to their first playoff berth in five years in 1973, and a division title in 1974, winning the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach. That performance earned him a promotion to the NHL, and Cherry would soon lead the Boston Bruins to two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Of course, Cherry remains best known for his 25 years on Hockey Night in Canada, and he has parlayed that success into a popular line of hockey videos, a chain of restaurants, a syndicated radio show and many lucrative endorsements. In 2004, his fundraising efforts helped found Rose Cherry’s Home for Kids, a hospice for terminally ill children named after his beloved wife, who died of cancer in 1997.

Career AHL Statistics – Don Cherry
Regular SeasonPlayoffs
1954-55Hershey Bears6371320125
1955-56Hershey Bears5832225102
1956-57Hershey Bears6452025197720227
1957-58Springfield Indians6591726831311210
1958-59Springfield Indians7062228118
1959-60Springfield Indians46211134510000
1961-62Springfield Indians1113410
1963-64Rochester Americans705111610620004
1964-65Rochester Americans624812561001134
1965-66Rochester Americans565111661
1966-67Rochester Americans7262430611312316
1967-68Rochester Americans686152174111122
1968-69Rochester Americans437111820
1971-72Rochester Americans191458
AHL Totals76767192259106657551093