April 02, 2009

Did You Know? Don Cherry's Brother Played With Flyers

Every hockey fan knows who Don Cherry is - the loud obnoxious TV personality and former very successful coach of the Boston Bruins. But few people know who Dick Cherry is.

"People are forever coming up and asking me, 'Hey, aren't you Don's brother?' " explained Dick. "I've been called 'Don's brother' so often in recent years that I sometimes think my initials are D.B. Thankfully, people in Kingston still know me as Dick, which truly is my first name."

While Dick lives in the very big shadow of his brother, he was actually a better player - 149 times better if you compare NHL games played totals. Don only appeared in one NHL game in his long minor league career. Dick too played mostly in the minors, but appeared in 149 games - 8 with Boston and 141 with Philadelphia.

"Most people around Kingston realize that I played a couple of years in the NHL," says Dick. "In fact, there was actually a time when folks around here referred to Don as my brother!"

That was back in 1968 through 1970 when Dick benefited from NHL expansion. The long time minor leaguer finally caught on as a limited defenseman and fulltime penalty killer with the young Flyers.

Dick initially sat out the first NHL season to teach elementary school in Kingston. He had initially retired from hockey in 1963 after 6 seasons in the minors to teach school. He came out of retirement in 1966-67 to play with the Oklahoma City Blazers of the CHL but returned to the halls of education.

Dick jumped a Flyers offer of $22,000 contract with a guarantee to play in the NHL .

"That was a hell of a lot of money in those days," recalled Cherry. "I went to the school director and asked him for a leave of absence to play in the NHL and the thought it was a great idea. So, off I went to Philadelphia.

Cherry earned a niche as a penalty killer but also popped in an impressive 9 goals in his rookie year, helping the Flyers reach the playoffs. His biggest goal came during the opening game of the 1969 playoffs against St. Louis.

"I scored a goal against Jacques Plante of the Blues" Dick remembers. "We ended up losing the game 5-2, but it was quite a thrill to get a goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Its a memory I'll keep with me the rest of my life."

Dick played another full season in Philly in 1969-70. His numbers dipped to 3 goals and 4 assists in 68 games. In the off-season he was reclaimed by the Boston Bruins in a intra-league draft. Dick was reluctant to leave the Flyers, as he knew there was little chance he'd play in Boston. He decided to play one more year, even though he'd return to Oklahoma City in the minor leagues "just to be eligible for NHL pension benefits" before retiring for good at age 34.

Dick returned to teaching full time and later became a principal.


penaltykiller9 said...

In The 1970 Bruins training camp Cherry was on of the best players . I remember the Boston writers being impressed with his play,but his age worked agianst him.I saw him play for the flyers against the rangers and he was one of the games 3 stars.

Anonymous said...

Do you realy think Don could not have played in the NHL post expansion? I am not his biggest fan but come on? Three years in age was a big difference for a lot of guys who could have played a season or two back then. I am not saying Don was better than Dick but playing for the 68 or 69 Flyers is no more impresive than playing for the 57 Indians - just ask Don Cherry! ;)

Anonymous said...

dick cherry was my public school principal for grade 7 just outside of kingston ontario, unfortunately this was my only year at his school... a kinder, fairer man you'll never meet

Anonymous said...

I too remembered Mr Cherry as the principal at Odessa Public School. Great guy.

Anonymous said...

Dick Cherry was my principal at Bath Public School