Stu Grimson has never said no to a fight in his life but Don Cherry is turtling after sideswiping the longtime NHL enforcer on national television.
Cherry made incoherent, non-factual and demeaning comments about Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson calling them, "pukes", "hypocrites" and "turncoats," in a segment of Coach's Corner on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada last Thursday.
But now the self-described tough guy Cherry won't even take Grimson's phone call to discuss his comments.
"Don won't take my phone calls and I've extended the invitation. I am open for discussion," said Grimson, who collected 2,113 penalty minutes in 729 NHL games and was one of the most feared fighters in the game while earning the nickname 'The Grim Reaper'. "The name-calling really gets me. Here's a guy, at current count there are 22 or 23 versions of his Rock 'Em Sock 'Em videos, that has made lots of cash off the backs of guys like me and now when a couple of guys in this category express a different view than Don, he wants to toss us under the bus. You tell me what's hypocritical. We never made a thin dime off his videos."
Grimson says it's time for Cherry to be held accountable.
"Certainly a lawsuit is a consideration. His comments on Saturday after he took a run at us on Thursday, if you listen and that takes some doing because Don is fairly incomprehensible, the concern from him is he wished 'the kids' hadn't heard it. There's no regret in aiming the terms at us and I certainly wouldn't call that an apology or even a clarification," said Grimson. "Don Cherry isn't accountable to anybody. Never has been. I won't say never will be because I'd like to see a different conclusion from this. He gets on the air and Ron McLean spoon-feeds him and sets him off in one direction. He rambles on incomprehensibly and targets folks that are completely undeserving. I think he's reckless, I think the game has passed him by and I think it's time to take away Uncle Don's car keys."
The CBC stated last week that they did not share Cherry's opinion but did not order a retraction.
"That's no surprise. They made an effort to distance themselves from his position. But that's just to create a little separation. But from our point of view, nothing they have said and nothing they have done makes it right as to this group of three," said Grimson, a practising lawyer and father of four kids with his wife Pam of 23 years. "Somebody like Don who has made his living off glorifying and glamourizing guys like us and then with no factual basis to support his position he chooses to defame me on the highest mountain top in Canada, that of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. I don't understand it and I find it awfully demeaning and it flat out doesn't rest well with me. And I'm ready to appear on CBC at any moment to state my case."
Grimson has enjoyed a successful transition to life after hockey while Nilan and Thomson have both struggled with addiction.
"We're talking about guys, Jim Thomson and Chris Nilan, who battle these demons and to call them these things is reprehensible. To single them out, while they battle this very, very difficult affliction is just about as low as any human being can sink," said Grimson, a lawyer with the Tennessee firm Kay, Griffin, Enkema and Colbert, which specializes in corporate litigation.
Grimson says there's still a place for fighting in the NHL and is confused as to why Cherry attacked him.
"It's a great question and it's what I've challenged Don on since the start. I've looked through the articles and searched my brain. I've never taken a position where I'm anti-fighting or taken a position where I've said the role of enforcer leads to a life of addiction," said Grimson. "So I can't put it together why he would choose to target me in this debate in the way that he did or the forum that he did on national television."
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