People say stupid things to news reporters all the time.
Politicians, activists, celebrities, whoever.
But every now and then, someone says several things—to a wide audience about a serious topic—which have absolutely no basis in fact and reality.
Enter Dr. Charles Tator, a so-called renowned neurosurgeon, who was interviewed by the Toronto Star after attending a conference in Regina about concussions.
Tator, obviously an expert on Canada’s national sport, took dead aim at former NHL coach and Canadian icon Don Cherry, who according to Tator, is the root cause of most on-ice head injuries.
“We've been too gentle with [Cherry] over the years,” said Tator. “We've allowed him to change the culture of hockey."
Change the culture of hockey?
While it’s true the culture has changed, Tator’s got it backwards.
Hockey used to be much wilder. For most of the 20th century, players welded their sticks like swords at other players without helmets. During the 1970s and early 1980s, bench-clearing brawls were commonplace at all levels—pro and amateur.
But due to a bevy of rule changes at the pro level, coupled with harsh penalties for rough play in minor hockey, things have calmed down.
So what the puck is Tator talking about?
Has he ever heard of Maurice Richard? Or the Broad Street Bullies? Or Mark Messier?
Does he know about the instigator rule and zero-tolerance checking-from-behind penalties?
Has he ever seen a hockey game? Seriously?
Tator ended his Star interview with following comment.
"And if we could get [Cherry] to change his message—if he came out with a safety message, if he came out strongly for safety and the elimination of hits to the head, then that would go a long way.”
Anyone who’s watched Coaches Corner in the last 20 years knows the Cherry is the preeminent champion of tough clean hockey.
He comes out “strongly for safety” in minor hockey on a regular basis. He helped launched the STOP SIGN program, which graces the backs all minor hockey players in Canada. He treats spinal chord injuries with the reverence of a saint. He regularly excoriates NHL cheapshot artists and advocates rule changes to protect pro players.
Cherry has done more for hockey safety than Tator ever will.
Tator’s not anti-hockey violence, he’s anti-hockey. He should crawl back to his laboratory and let the rest us run the rinks.