Grapes ties one on against 'pacifists'

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Less than an hour before the Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres took to the ice last night, the always outspoken Don Cherry noticed how many of his colleagues were sporting pink ties.

But it was Grapes whose cravat would send the strongest message on this particular evening, and most sarcastic.

Taking a swipe at the anti-fighting fraternity, Cherry wore a bright yellow tie "with peace doves" all over it -- a shot at "pacifists" who want to remove fisticuffs from the sport.

"I hate to say it, but I think the sweethearts are winning the battle. And it's sad to see," Cherry said before the game.

"Even though 97% of the fans players want fighting. Even though 85% of the fans want it. Even though the fans were chanting "Belak Belak" the other night. Even with all that, the NHL still listens to the pacifists."

Cherry dismisses the notion that U.S. fans have no appetite for violence.

"It's ridiculous," he said. "Look at how big that Ultimate Fighting has become. It's bigger than wrestling.

"People down there don't want to see European hockey. That's evident in Detroit, where the building is one-quarter empty. It's sad. Why is it that way? Because they want to see the type of hockey that included the likes of Bob Probert, Joey Kocur and Darren McCarty, not this."

League disciplinarian Colin Campbell has taken heat the past few days for his perceived anti-fighting stance. In truth, all Campbell did was ask the question: Should fighting still be part of the game?

"We have fighting in the game and, right now, it has its place," Campbell told Hockey Night in Canada, adding that the issue will be open to further discussion in the future.


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