NHL, Sportsnet Call Out Don Cherry For Remembrance Day Remarks
Comments made by "Hockey Night in Canada" co-host Don Cherry over the weekend on his weekly “Coach’s Corner” segment have been “condemned as ‘offensive’” by the NHL and Sportsnet, according to Etan Vlessing of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. During the segment on Saturday, Cherry accused new Canadian immigrants of “not wearing poppies to honor war veterans and dead soldiers” for Remembrance Day. Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley yesterday said, "Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network." The league also was critical of Cherry's commentary, issuing a statement saying, "The comments made last night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in." Meanwhile, Cherry's longtime co-host Ron MacLean, who has "come under fire on social media for sitting silently by on camera while Cherry delivered his tirade," last night took to Twitter to "apologize for not calling out his colleague on air" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 11/10). In Ontario, Sabrina Gamrot notes many upset viewers "took to Twitter calling for an apology" from Cherry and MacLean. A few viewers even "called for the resignation of Cherry and to cancel" the segment all together (MISSISSAUGA NEWS, 11/11).
MACLEAN APOLOGIZES, NOT CHERRY: MacLean, in addition to his Twitter apology, also apologized last night on-air, calling Cherry's comments “hurtful, discriminatory (and) flat out wrong.” MacLean: “It certainly doesn’t stand for what Sportsnet or Rogers represents. We know diversity is the strength of the country. We see it in the travels with our show and with ‘Hockey Night In Canada.’ I owe you an apology, too. That’s the big thing that I want to emphasize. I sat there, did not catch it, did not respond. ... I wanted to thank you for calling me and Don on that” ("Rogers Hometown Hockey," Sportsnet, 11/10). THE ATHLETIC's Sean Fitz-Gerald noted Cherry "did not appear on air with MacLean" last night, and he "suggested he would not apologize" for his remarks. It is "not clear what happens next." Fitz-Gerald: "Is Cherry free to return to the air next weekend? Was he at risk of a suspension? Was his job in jeopardy?" (THEATHLETIC.com, 11/10). The GLOBE & MAIL's Simon Houpt writes Cherry's comments are "just the latest and most nakedly xenophobic incident in a long career of bigotry." For Sportsnet parent Rogers Media, the decision on what to do with him will "likely come down to a matrix of ratings versus outrage." Houpt: "If these latest comments by Cherry aren’t going to prompt his bosses to cut him loose, what would?" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/11). In Toronto, Bruce Arthur writes under the header, "It Really Should Be Game Over For Don Cherry This Time After Toxic 'You People' Rant." But nobody has been "willing to be the one" to fire him. Cherry is "still on TV, still saying what he thinks," but he "shouldn't be." Arthur: "It should be over" (TORONTO STAR, 11/11).
THIS TIME SEEMS DIFFERENT: In Vancouver, Ed Willes writes it "feels like Cherry has finally exhausted the patience of his audience and his employers." That "wasn't a firebrand speaking on Saturday night." It was "yesterday's man who continues to abuse the pulpit" he has been given (Vancouver PROVINCE, 11/11). USA TODAY's Chris Korman writes Cherry "should no longer have a platform" on one of Canada's "most influential television shows." Korman: "This is racist. And xenophobic. And should not be the sort of thing broadcast during a Saturday night hockey game" (USA TODAY, 11/11). The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons tweeted, "Don Cherry should not be on Hockey Night in Canada next week. There needs to be some penalty for his hateful words. After that, that's up to Rogers and [President] Jordan Banks" (TWITTER.com, 11/10). The Toronto Star's Doug Smith: "The Don Cherry thing was despicable and he should be fired -- he should have been gone long before -- but Ron MacLean's lame and POS 'thumbs up' is equally disgusting and he's got to be held accountable, too" (TWITTER.com, 11/10). In Montreal, Stu Cowan writes Cherry, 85, "refuses to grow" with the changing game. Cowan: "Cherry's comments were disgraceful." They had "absolutely nothing to do with hockey on a show called Hockey Night in Canada" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 11/11).
DEFENDING GRAPES: In Toronto, Joe Warmington writes if Sportsnet and the NHL "don't like the remarks it is their show and prerogative to criticize." But this public reaction is an "overreaction, perhaps by some waiting in the weeds to pounce." Many of the commenters on this have been "over the top with their piling on and frenzy when this was merely Don expressing his opinion, as he has done in a non-politically-correct fashion for 40 years" (TORONTO SUN, 11/11). Vlogger and Washington Post columnist J.J. McCullough tweeted, "Cherry is obviously a windbag but jeez louise he didn’t KILL a man. All this crocodile tear weeping as if this country has undergone some sort of national trauma ... what sort of rhetoric is going to be left to use when we have an ACTUAL national trauma?" (TWITTER.com, 11/11).