DON CHERRY: Accused of racism on Coach’s Corner for saying not enough immigrants wearing poppies
It’s Hockey Night in Canada again and you know what that means: People on Twitter are getting triggered by Don Cherry again.
The Twitter mob was losing their minds Saturday night because Grapes, 85, called out newcomers for not paying their respects to Canada’s soldiers during the leadup to Remembrance Day by wearing poppies.
Donning a double-chested solemn black suit with a commemorative patch to honour Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers, Cherry pointed out how he doesn’t see too many native-born and newcomer Canadians properly paying their respects to veterans, fallen soldiers and active service members. Cherry said he hesitated to play his historic commemorative video on air tonight, as no one wears them in Mississauga, where he lives, and “forget downtown Toronto, no one wears the poppy” but spoke to a veteran, who convinced him otherwise, and told him to run it for those who do don them.
Cherry triggered a lot of anger on Twitter when he said immigrants should honour those who fought for our freedom and way of life they came here to enjoy: “You people love–they come here whatever it is–you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price.”
By Sunday, the furor over his comments was so large online, with many calling for him to be fired, that Sportsnet put out a press release.
“DON’S DISCRIMINATORY COMMENTS ARE OFFENSIVE AND THEY DO NOT REPRESENT OUR VALUES AND WHAT WE STAND FOR AS A NETWORK. WE HAVE SPOKEN TO DON ABOUT THE SEVERITY OF THIS ISSUE AND WE SINCERELY APOLOGIZE FOR THESE DIVISIVE REMARKS,” read the press release in all caps and signed by Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley.
He also addressed the controversy surrounding his lack of sympathy for the Sabourin injury, stating he knew that Sabourin was not hurt when he put his thumbs up as he was being carted off the ice. “I have been in the game a long time” and “putting up thumbs mean extremities, c’mon!”
Ron defended his co-hosts comments, stating that the Cherry’s giggles were to mock him, not Sabourin.
Last week’s Coach’s Corner Cherry upset the Twittersphere after laughing at Ron Maclean’s concern over Ottawa Senator Scott Sabourin being seriously injured from a major hit that knocked him out.
This week, Cherry also lauded Robby Fabbri’s fresh start with the Red Wings, Adam Lowry’s tough and veteran role with the Jets, and Max Domi’s incredible story with diabetes and his relationship with his dog, among other hockey stories. Cherry and MacLean’s show took a sad turn when they acknowledged and mourned the loss of two young hockey players in the community.
Earlier this week in an interview with Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun, Cherry said, “They couldn’t care less… they enjoy the freedoms the soldiers, sailors and airmen died for but that’s it.”
In defence of Cherry, photographer Veronica Henri noted that her research into how many in the Toronto community were wearing the commemorative poppy were sad, as only about 10 percent of individuals in the downtown Toronto area were seen wearing it.
Here are some examples of people who got upset on their Saturday evening over Grapes’ views:
Shawn Lewis, city councillor for London, brought forth a motion to move the annual London Santa Claus Parade at Tuesday’s Community and Protective Services Committee meeting. The idea for the move is due to its proximity to the Remembrance Day Parade according to CBC.
The motion Lewis introduced was to restrict any parade permits on public streets between Nov. 1-11, the idea being so that the public doesn’t lose focus on the veterans and the sacrifices they’ve made. Lewis serves as chair on the committee.
“As a member of the Royal Canadian Legion myself, I think it is important that Remembrance Day and the lead up to it have a public focus on our veterans and the sacrifices they have made for us,” Lewis wrote in a letter.
The London Santa Claus Parade has taken place on the second Saturday of November in the past, a date that often falls just before Remembrance Day, leaving many veterans feeling unappreciated.
The organizers of the Santa Claus parade agreed to move the date in the future but Lewis wanted to ensure that this didn’t become an issue down the line.
“As time goes on, people retire from organizing events, other people take over, councils change, mayors change, and I think it’s just a good idea to formalize it in our procedures and policies with respect for our veterans,” he told the committee.
Much to Lewis’ delight, the motion passed 4-1.
Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih voted against the decision however stating, “Me personally, I’m supportive [of the motion], … but I’m struggling on restricting people from choosing to make their own decisions,”
He went on to add, “Many of those people who have served, served to ensure people can make whichever decisions they want to make and do what they want to do on certain days, but I recognize where this is coming from,”
“It seems like a simple solution,” said Ward 1 Coun. Michael Van Holst, who voted in favour of the motion. “[It’s] surprising that someone hasn’t thought of it before.”
Lewis stressed the importance of dealing with this procedurally, saying it’s the only way to address the issue but the decision will still require approval from city council.
Don Cherry’s name has been taken off of the Western Hockey League’s “Suits up” fundraising project. On Friday night the Edmonton Oil Kings held an event that has previously been advertised with his name.
For the two previous seasons, the event was called “Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation.”
CTV News reported that this year they have changed the name to “Suits Up to Promote Organ Donation.” This will be the wording for the game between the Oil Kings and the Prince Albert Raiders on January 17
For the promotion, the players trade their regular jerseys for suit-themed ones that resemble the suits Don Cherry is famous for wearing during Hockey Night in Canada.
Cherry was recently fired from the program for his controversial comments regarding people not wearing poppies.
He said, “You people … that come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”
Cherry also made an announcement letting people know that he will not be coaching the Canadian Hockey League prospects game. The game is an annual event that Cherry has been involved in since 1996 along with his good friend and hockey legend—Bobby Orr.
The WHL has 17 “Suits up” games being played from January to March. The games help fund the Kidney Foundation of Canada. In the first two years of the events, they have raised close to $500,000 for the charity.
According to a new report from the Toronto Sun’s Brian Lilley, the ratings for Hockey Night in Canada have declined sharply since the firing of Canadian icon Don Cherry.
Lilley writes, “in the two weeks following Cherry’s dismissal the eastern broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada failed to make the Top 30 TV shows ranked by Numeris.
That means the premier hockey game in Canada failed to draw as many viewers as NCIS: New Orleans, one of two NCIS shows in the top 30.
It also failed to replace Chicago Fire and Chicago Med.”
Lilley pointed out that “the most recent ratings available show Hockey Night in Canada down more than half a million viewers from their peak earlier this year. The December 13 main game drew just 810,000 viewers compared to 983,000 for the same weekend in 2018.”
The Numeris numbers are as follows:
October 5: 1247
October 12: 1364
October 19: 1150
October 26: 1102
November 2: 989
November 9: 1027
November 30: 1053
December 7: 822
December 14: 810
in a wildly unpopular move, Sportsnet fired Cherry on Remembrance Day after he criticized new Canadians for not wearing the poppy to honour veterans.
Cherry has since launched his own podcast that is one of the most popular in Canada.
Cherry wrapped up another edition of his podcast Grapevine 2.0 Monday. His son Tim was alongside him and they talked all things hockey, until towards the end when Cherry got a little wistful about his time as the nation’s Saturday night coach. Cherry began to reminisce about his days at Coach’s Corner near the end of the podcast, and how he misses it.
“Well Tim, it’s been seven weeks since I was let go, well let’s say let go [from Coach’s Corner] and a lot of people ask me do you miss it? And I say, ‘Well if you do something for close to 40 years of course you miss it. I thought I was gonna go on and do it forever. And you know, it was fun this year. I was on a roll. I really felt good this year. And to be honest with you, I do miss it on Saturday nights.”
Cherry went on to show his gratitude for his coworkers, highlighting some of the staff working behind the camera, “And I miss a lot of the people. I miss Sully, who was one of the camera men, we used to sit there after and work on it, make it look good. I miss Andrew, the lighting guy. I think Barbaba Walter’s said it best when she said, “I’ll last as long as the lighting guy is good[laughs]. Andrew did a good job, he learned from Tony.”
Cherry did not mention his former co-host, Ron MacLean, who he previously said he was disappointed in after MacLean apologized for not intervening live on air to Cherry’s “you people” comment. Many fans of the show said it was a betrayal of MacLean to not stick up for his co-host of over 30 years, instead caving to the outrage mob on social media.
“Cathy used to do Coach’s Corner, I don’t know what I’d do without her and Kevin, the floor director, I mean… Stanley, the stat guy and Lilley, did the make up and you know.”
“A lot of people think you know, are you bitter? I’m not bitter… it was time to go. They did their thing and I had to do my thing. I’m not bitter about the whole thing at all. Time to go. But I do miss it.”
Cherry’s Grapevine 2.0 remains one of the most listened to podcasts in Canada, at one point beating Joe Rogan’s podcast for top spot in the country.