Hockey's always colourful commentator, Don Cherry, has kicked up yet another hornet's nest, this time by calling three former NHL enforcers "pukes" for speaking out against fighting.

On the season's first edition of CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" Thursday, Cherry used his popular "Coach's Corner" segment to lash out at those who are trying to put an end to fighting in hockey.

He said this summer's deaths of former brawlers Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak have been misused as a soapbox for anti-fighting apologists.

"You people that are against fighting, you should be ashamed of yourselves," Cherry said. "You took advantage of that to make your point on fighting. You should be ashamed of yourself for doing something like that."

He then stepped it up a notch, calling out former NHL brawlers Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson for suggesting that players who fight are prone to substance abuse.

"The ones that I am really disgusted with ... are the bunch of pukes that fought before: Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson. (They say) 'Oh, the reason that they're drinking, (taking) drugs and alcoholics is because they're fighting.' You turncoats. You hypocrites," Cherry accused.

"If there's one thing I'm not it's a hypocrite. You guys were fighters, and now you don't want guys to make the same living you did."

Nilan defended himself against Cherry's comments Thursday night by taking to his Twitter account.

"Let's get it straight right here and now, I never said that players who were fighters were prone to alcoholism and drug abuse," he posted.

"I guess those who can't play coach, or just had a show called coaches corner. pretty sad he has to say that to get ratings. Guess he see's the writing on the wall with CBC losing market share to Bell and TSN (sic)."

The comments lit up Twitter, with many saying Cherry went too far and others saying, essentially, "That's Don Cherry for you."

Michael Landsberg, the host of TSN's "Off The Record," told CTV's Canada AM Friday morning that he agrees with those who say that Cherry just loves to be controversial for the sake of being controversial.

But he also believes that Cherry "absolutely, 100 per cent believes" that hockey won't be the same if fighting and head shots are discouraged.

Landsberg says "the code of ethics that exists in (Cherry's) mind for the NHL" exists all over, including in Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, who shares Cherry's views about the need for fighting.

"They believe it's been in the game forever. They believe that it helps to police the game. And there's a certain β€˜Don't tell us what we can do'," Landsberg said.