Don Cherry really didn’t want to go to Sochi to cover the 2014 Winter Olympics. It was his birthday when he began the trip to Russia, and his previous experience at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, hadn’t left a favorable impression with the iconic Canadian announcer.
“Honestly, I thought I was going to die over there,” he said to the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons in reference to the 1998 Winter Games. “Don Drysdale had just died in a hotel room just before the Olympics. And I kept thinking the headline was going to be ‘sports announcer dies at Olympic Games.’ Believe me, I have no fond memories of that time.”
In an unexpected but welcome turn of events, Cherry has actually been enjoying his time in Russia. The 80-year-old is taking in the sights and and sounds of the 2014 Winter Olympics, all while managing to be ready for his 2:30 a.m. edition of “Coach’s Corner.”
” The image I thought coming over is quite different from what I’ve seen,” Cherry told Simmons. “We went downtown to get our beer and honestly I couldn’t believe it. It was like a shopping mall. I didn’t expect that. The people have been so friendly. Really, I have nothing to complain about.”
A lack of beer is certainly one thing Cherry can’t complain about — he told Simmons that he indulges in “several” of them a day. And with Anheuser-Busch paying for nine of his television appearances, why not indulge in some Budweisers?
“It keeps me going,” he said to Simmons. “I’m happy as long as I have my beer.”
One thing that would make Cherry and the rest of Canada unhappy no matter how many beers they have is anything less than gold for the men’s ice hockey team. The pressure’s on, but Cherry is very, very confident about Canada’s chances.
“Our B team could be in the medal round,” he told Simmons.
Cherry also displayed his soft side in Sochi, voicing concern for the stray dogs whose terminations were making headlines before the Olympics even started.
“I went for a walk today and saw these two little dogs just wandering around, kind of following us. I see these homeless dogs and that really bothers me,” Cherry said to Simmons. “I might bring them home with me. I love these dogs. I just hope nothing bad happens to them.”
While it probably wouldn’t be a wise bet that Cherry will end up taking a Sochi stray home, it’s encouraging to hear that at least some people are enjoying their time at the Winter Games.