Don Cherry fired from ‘Coaches Corner’ segment
By Craig Allan, Staff Writer
After over 35 years of stewarding the Coaches Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada, Don Cherry was fired on November 11 due to comments he made on air regarding people in Canada who don’t buy poppies or wear them.
The comment regarded Cherry’s thoughts on people who don’t buy poppies in the lead up to Remembrance Day, which many interpret to be directed at immigrants due to Cherry’s “you people come here” part of his statement. Cherry stated “You people love our way of life, you love our milk and honey—at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy.”
Rogers Communications, through their ownership of Sportsnet—who in turn have a sub-licensing deal with CBC to broadcast Hockey Night in Canada—fired the broadcaster, saying that his comments do not represent, “[Sportsnet’s] values or what we stand for.”
This is not the first time that Cherry has been criticized for controversial statements; at times he has made comments that many have considered politically incorrect. In the past, Cherry’s comments have not been a concern, but with the ever-changing world and societal norms changing, Cherry’s comments resonated with people as inappropriate and unacceptable instead of just merely controversial.
Cherry’s comments and subsequent firing have touched a nerve, with many supporters and detractors for the commentator. After his rant, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council was overwhelmed by a flood of negative criticisms of Cherry. The council said that they said hit the limit of their technical processing capacity. As for his supporters, they have come out with criticisms about his firing—they have even organized a protest rally outside Sportsnet headquarters in Toronto which was held on November 13.
Since his firing, Cherry has been making the rounds and speaking to big media outlets in Canada, and Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight. He has stated that he is not sorry for what he said, but admits that given another chance, he would not have worded it in the way he originally did—instead he wants to say “everybody” instead of “you people.” He also voiced his disappointment for his co-star, Ron McLean, who he says “buried me” the next night by apologizing for his comments. McLean has said that Hockey Night in Canada will continue without Cherry but did not divulge what it will look like. There is also no word as to whether Cherry’s Coaches Corner segment will continue after his departure.
Cherry has said that he does not have any other broadcasting opportunities on the horizon, which may indicate the end of his broadcast career. Cherry has been a fixture of Canadian television for almost 40 years, but considering Sportsnet’s attempts to appeal to an non-English speaking audience—with examples like Punjabi broadcasts of games—it would seem that his time has run out as a broadcaster trying to establish broader coverage of Canada’s national sport.