Don Cherry Out at Sportsnet After Bizarre On-Air Comments

Hockey Night in Canada, a staple program in the country with an illustrious history dating back to the age of radio, has fired its longest-tenured analyst.

Don Cherry had been a host on the program since 1982 when the Coaches Corner segment was created due to Cherry’s tendency to openly cheer for one of the teams that were being broadcasted. Throughout his tenure as a broadcaster, he was known for his eccentric suits, his support of many charitable organizations and his strong political beliefs that occasionally resulted in controversy

On  November 9, during his usual segment with co-host Ron Maclean, Cherry began to speak about Remembrance Day and wearing a Poppy, which is seen as a sign of respect toward Canada’s veterans. This rant would seal his fate with Hockey Night’s parent company Sportsnet. “You people…that come here, whatever it is, love our way of life, love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that.” It was understood by most that Cherry was referring to immigrants. 

Immediately following the clip being posted to Sportsnet’s website, the company rushed to take it down as well as issue a statement.

Cherry’s longtime co-host Ron Maclean issued his own statement. 

Two days later, ironically, on the day he was attempting to raise support for, it was announced that Cherry would be stepping down immediately. 

In his announcement, Sportsnet’s President Bart Yabsley cited the anti-immigrant remarks and stated that they were not reflective of the company He ended his remarks by thanking Cherry for “his contributions to hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada.” With Sportsnet’s tagline proudly stating “United by Sport” it is logical they would attempt to internally remove any controversial figures. 

As soon as the announcement reached the Twittersphere, Cherry’s opposition and support were quick to voice their opinions. 

The sympathy towards Cherry contributed to the creation of the #IStandWIthDonCherry hashtag. 

Alternative reactions suggested channeling this anger towards sympathy for the victims. 

With such a familiar figure to so many Canadians being heavily scrutinized, it opened up room to shift the conversation into another Left vs Right political debate. 

Some went as far as to compare it to the miscounduct by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which came to public attention before the most recent federal election, criticizing media’s unequal reactions to the blatant racial insensitivity. 

Conversely, there was support for Trudeau to follow suit and resign. 

Amongst the absurd reactions Dynamo Moscow, a KHL team in Russia used this opportunity to extend a job offer. 

Continuing to miss the cause of the controversy, Don continued his support for the troops without any acknowledgment of his xenophobic rhetoric. 

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