The people have spoken.
Don Cherry’s 38-year run on Coach’s Corner and Hockey Night in Canada came to an unceremonious and wholly justified stop Monday. The loud-mouthed, brash, opinionated broadcaster has been fired by Sportsnet for targeting Canadian immigrants with racist and divisive remarks on last Saturday’s broadcast, and for refusing to apologize or see the wrongs of his actions.
“Sports brings people together – it unites us, not divides us," read a statement from Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley. “Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday Night’s broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down. During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.
“Don is synonymous with hockey and has played an integral role in growing the game over the past 40 years. We would like to thank Don for his contributions to hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada.”
Cherry isn’t backing down from his stance, and refused to admit the comments were racist.
“I know what I said and I meant it,” Cherry said via the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington. “Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honour our fallen soldiers....
“To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot.”
On the basis of his hockey analysis alone, many have moved on from viewing Cherry as a credible source for insight into the sport. It’s been more schtick than substance for many years now and for that reason his anti-immigrant rant could have been avoided, right along with the crash-and-burn ending to what was a Canadian television institution.
Cherry began his broadcasting career in 1980, and started co-hosting the Coach’s Corner segment with Ron MacLean in 1986. Cherry and MacLean were both inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2015.
Prior to his work in front of the camera, Cherry bounced around the minor leagues as a player, suiting up for one playoff game in the NHL with the Boston Bruins in 1955.
After his playing career ended, he enjoyed a successful run as a coach with both the AHL’s Rochester Americans and NHL’s Bruins. In five seasons behind Boston’s bench, he accumulated a 231-105-64 record, losing twice in the Stanley Cup Final.
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