Don Cherry Fired by Sportsnet After Making Anti-Immigrant Comments

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 11, 2019

REGINA, SK - MAY 21:  Don Cherry and Ron MacLean of Coaches Corner stand on the ice at the start of the game between Hamilton Bulldogs and the Swift Current Broncos at Brandt Centre - Evraz Place on May 21, 2018 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

Longtime hockey analyst Don Cherry was fired Monday by Sportsnet in the wake of directing offensive remarks toward immigrants during Saturday night's "Coach's Corner" segment.

Sportsnet issued a statement confirming the decision to part ways with Cherry:

Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun first reported Cherry's exit:

Cherry, 85, criticized immigrants in the Toronto and Mississauga region of Ontario who he claimed were not wearing poppies in honor of veterans on Remembrance Day.

"You people ... you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that," he said on the segment (h/t Associated Press). "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."

Those comments met immediate backlash, including from Cherry's co-host, Ron MacLean:

Following the public outcry, Sportsnet decided to move on from Cherry.

Cherry has spent his life in hockey. After playing for two decades in various minor leagues (and one game in the NHL with the Boston Bruins in the 1954-55 season), he served as a head coach in the NHL with the Bruins (1974-79) and Colorado Rockies (1979-80).

He became a full-time broadcaster in 1981 for the CBC, and "Coach's Corner" was later created. Cherry and MacLean have hosted the segment since 1986.

But Cherry's most recent offensive comments were not his first. In 1989, he asked of Winnipeg Jets assistant coach Alpo Suhonen: "Alpo? Isn't that a dog food?"

Sunaya Sapurji of The Athletic outlined more of Cherry's controversial or offensive takes in the past:

"Cherry has been espousing offensive views on 'Hockey Night In Canada' for decades, and nothing has changed. He's been an equal opportunity offender to Russians, Europeans and French Canadians. Concussion spotters are 'dumb-dumbs.' People who ride bicycles are 'pinkos.'

"In 2011, he called former enforcers Chris Nilan, Stu Grimson and Jim Thompson 'pukes' after they spoke out about the dangers of drugs and alcohol following the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak.

"He even attacked the former players involved in the NHL's concussion settlement, calling it a 'money grab.' This coming from a man who profited from selling their pain in his 'Rock'Em Sock'Em' videos."

While both Sportsnet and MacLean apologized on Cherry's behalf, the man himself never did. That was perhaps the final nail in the coffin for the longtime analyst, both an icon of hockey broadcasting and its most controversial and at times offensive institution.

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