Don Cherry, the colorfully dressed program of the show "Hockey Night in Canada", was released on Monday after airing comments that were widely viewed as a racist attack on immigrant patriotism.
"After further discussions with Don Cherry after the Saturday evening broadcast, it was decided that it was the right time for him to step down immediately." said Bart Yabsley, the president of the Sportsnet cable channel, which was the Saturday night N.H.L. Games that make up “Hockey Night in Canada”.
In fluctuating statements on Saturday evening, Cherry criticized what he believed to be insufficient patriotism from Canadians, who did not wear small plastic poppies in honor of the military personnel who had died for their country. The poppy is a prominent symbol of Remembrance Day, which is celebrated on Monday in countries with historical ties to the United Kingdom.
Cherry complained that downtown Toronto "no one wears poppies," which is in contrast to "small towns." Apparently, he turned to non-white Canadians, who make up just over half of Toronto's population, and added, "You people love – they come here." Whatever it is – you love our way of life, you love our milk and our honey, at least you can pay a few dollars for a poppy or something. These guys paid for the lifestyle you enjoy in Canada and they paid the highest price. "
The 85-year-old Cherry, known for both his extravagant dress and his inflammatory outlook, performed in his "Coach & # 39; s Corner" segment with a Royal Canadian Legion blazer, although he is not a veteran. On the lapel was a poppy, which was sold by departments of the veteran group as a fundraiser.
Cherry, a former head coach of the Boston Bruins, has long hosted the six- to seven-minute section of Hockey Night in Canada. He is an intrepid right-wing conservative man who plays the role of a man in a bar and has repeatedly insulted large sections of Canadians with his opinions on hockey and other issues.
He responded quickly to his comment from a country that encourages immigration and welcomes immigrants in general. Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh who leads the federal New Democratic Party, posted a photo of his great grandfather in uniform when he served in the British military in both World War I and World War II.
Former Liberal Party leader and Ontario Prime Minister Bob Rae called Kirsch's statements "ignorant and unprejudiced". Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga, Ontario, the suburb of Toronto where Cherry lives, announced that "to say that "you people" Don't respect our veterans, that's despicable. “Some people noticed that Kirsch's claims about the lack of poppies on display were inaccurate.
Cherry also found little support in hockey.
Before he was fired, Sportsnet apologized for Kirsch's comments and called them "insulting". Ron MacLean, the co-host of "Coach & # 39; s Corner", denied it in one broadcast on Sunday,
"Don Cherry made hurtful, discriminatory comments that were absolutely wrong," said MacLean. He added: "I also owe you an apology. That is the big thing that I want to emphasize. I sat there, I didn't understand it, didn't answer. "
The N.H.L. called the comments "offensive and contrary to the values we believe in."
Even after he was released, Cherry said that he hadn't seen anything wrong with his comments. "I know what I said and I meant it," he said The Toronto Sun. "Everyone in Canada should wear a poppy to honor our fallen soldiers."
Poppies play an important role in sports around Remembrance Day – all English Premier League players wore one in their uniform this weekend – but they are not a popular symbol. Irish footballer James McClean is widely known for refusing to wear the poppies and believes that he disrespects the victims of the British army, particularly the Irish. (In Canada, N.H.L. players don't usually wear poppies on their uniforms, although coaches often attach them to their lapels.)
"Hockey Night in Canada" provided Cherry with a mighty pulpit. Almost since its first broadcast on CBC television in 1952, the show has enjoyed one of the largest audiences in English-language Canadian television.
In 2014, the N.H.L. The rights to English-language broadcasts in Canada were transferred from CBC, a federal government broadcaster, to Rogers Communications, a cable television and mobile phone company, and a broadcaster owned by Sportsnet. Rogers also owns the Toronto Blue Jays and is one of two partners in the company behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors.
In an unusual way to maintain the tradition of free hockey night in Canada wireless broadcasts, the CBC is now broadcasting the production of Sportsnet's games on Saturdays, with all advertising revenue flowing to the Rogers subsidiary.
Chuck Thompson, a spokesman for the CBC, said the CBC has no control over production, including the decision to use Cherry. Sportsnet may also use its logo in connection with the show that is streamed on the CBC's online platforms. Thompson said the network expressed its "serious concern" about Cherry's statements on Sportsnet on Monday.
Cherry's political views are not the only ones that have haunted him in recent years. He has expressed a preference for English-speaking, Canadian-born players who come from Europe because they are gentle. He also spoke out for a tougher hockey style – he once marketed hockey highlight videos as "Don Cherry & # 39; s Rock & # 39; em Sock & # 39; em Hockey" – and eliminated concerns about the impact, himself than hundreds of players the NHL sued. and accused her of underestimating the problems associated with head injuries.