AHL Hall of Fame calls Don Cherry

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post.ca

Played for and coached Rochester Americans

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League has announced four men have been selected for induction into the league’s Hall of Fame as the Class of 2019.

Honored by the AHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee as the 14th group of enshrinees are John Anderson, Don Cherry, Murray Eaves and Brad Smyth. “For more than 80 years, the American Hockey League has been built upon a foundation of excellence,” said David Andrews, AHL president and chief executive officer. “The AHL Board of Governors is proud to unanimously endorse the Selection Committee’s recommendation for the induction of these four individuals into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame as the Class of 2019.”

The Class of 2019 will be honored as part of festivities at the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield, hosted by the Springfield Thunderbirds. The American Hockey League Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony is set for Jan. 28.

Formed in 2006 to recognize, honor and celebrate individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions in the American Hockey League, the AHL Hall of Fame is housed online at www.AHLHallofFame.com and is accessible to fans worldwide with the click of a mouse as part of the AHL Internet Network.

One of the most recognizable personalities in all of Canada, Don Cherry was a standout defenseman and award-winning coach in the American Hockey League before he ever sat behind the Coach’s Corner desk during NHL broadcasts on CBC.

Cherry’s prolific career as a defenseman included 767 games in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, the Springfield Indians and the Rochester Americans, collecting 259 points (67 goals, 192 assists) and racking up 1,066 penalty minutes. In AHL playoffs, Cherry saw action in 57 games, scoring five goals and being credited with five assists and 93 penalty minutes.

A native of Kingston, Ontario, Cherry signed his first professional contract with the Bears in 1954 and played 63 games as a rookie – plus one playoff contest with the Boston Bruins, the only NHL appearance of his career. Cherry joined owner Eddie Shore’s Springfield club in 1957 and helped the Indians reach their first Calder Cup Finals in 1958, and then secure their first championship in 1960.

Cherry brought his rock-’em, sock-’em style of play to Rochester in 1963 and the Amerks were soon the class of the league, reaching four consecutive Calder Cup Finals and winning championships in 1965, 1966 and 1968. He settled in western New York after retiring in 1969, and after two years away from hockey he rejoined the Amerks as a player-coach in January 1972. Rochester finished strong in 1972, qualified for the playoffs in 1973 and then posted the best record in the league in 1974, earning Cherry the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s Coach of the Year

During his playing career in Rochester, Cherry saw action in 390 regular season games. He recorded 34 goals and was credited with 84 assists for 118 points. The rugged defenseman was sent to the penalty box for a total of 386 minutes with the Amerks. During his time with the Amerks, he played on two of the three Calder Cup champions, seeing no game action in 1965-66. In 1964-65 he saw action in 10 playoff games, recording one assist and 34 penalty minutes. In 1966-67, when the Amerks missed becoming the champions a third straight year, he played 13 games, recording a goal and two assists and 16 penalty minutes.

When the Amerks regained the Cup in 1967-68, he was on the ice in 11 playoff games, recording a goal and an assist and just two penalty minutes.

As head coach of the Amerks, Cherry led his team to a record of 91-70-30 ties in 191 games for a winning percentage of .555. His teams did not fare as well in the playoffs, winning just four of 12 games, a winning percentage of .333.

Cherry went on to coach the Boston Bruins and Colorado Rockies in the National Hockey League, and since 1980 has been an iconic commentator on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives, broadcasters and staff of all 31 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers. In 2017-18, more than 6 million fans attended AHL regular-season and playoff games across North America for the 17th year in a row.

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