‘I miss it’: Don Cherry reminisces about Coach’s Corner, doesn’t mention Ron MacLean
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.”
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.
We’ve made it, Canada! After a long and admittedly exhausting year, we can put all things behind us as we set our sights on 2020!
2019 was a fairly eventful year for Canada, as we all know. Whether it was the buzzing election, the electrifying year of sports, or headlines made by celebrities and public figures, it’s fair to say Canada had its share of winners and losers. So here is our year-end list of the five greatest losers of 2019!
5. Maxime Bernier
Maxime Bernier, the longtime Conservative Party MP for the Quebec riding of Beauce, has had a fairly interesting year—one that’s been well documented in the public eye. After losing the bid for Conservative party leadership in 2017, Bernier founded the People’s Party of Canada, giving right-wing voters an alternative to the tradition conservatism they were familiar with.
Well, that did not work out well for Bernier, as he lost his party’s only seat in a landslide to Conservative candidate Richard Lehoux.
Projections had Bernier in a comfortable lead. The loss leaves his party unrepresented in the House, and for that, Bernier has earned a spot on this list.
4. Rachel McKinnon
Dr. Rachel McKinnon, philosophy professor, cyclist, trans woman, came to fame in 2018 when she made history by being the first trans athlete to win the women’s 2018 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships.
McKinnon is a vocal trans advocate who has spoken out in favour of trans women competing in women’s sports, has physically dominated biological women in her own sport of cycling, and, in 2019 took to Twitter to pen endless threads against the so-called “cotton ceiling,” the final barrier preventing trans women from being equally accepted.
3. Ron MacLean
Most of the nation mourned when the beloved Don Cherry was axed from his position at Hockey Night in Canada. The legendary sports broadcaster, whose career spanned over three decades, was cut over “controversial” comments made about the poppy.
Even Ron MacLean, who sat beside Cherry for many years and during those controversial poppy statements, nodded along to Cherry, which is probably why so many feel as though he threw Don under the bus.
MacLean attempted to explain why Grapes was fired, though watching Ron without Don next to him felt wrong to a nation so used to seeing the duo on their screen at once.
“There were steps that needed to be taken after what he said, and he didn’t want to take those steps,” said MacLean between the first and second period of the first Saturday night NHL game after Cherry’s firing.
“I sat all week long reflecting, listening to you, and I have heard you. I mean you the viewer. I’ve reflected by listening to my own heart. I’ve struggled mightily to find the words, and I’m not sure I even have them now. But they say it’s a good thing because when you can find the words it’s dead in your heart. And it’s not dead in my heart,” said MacLean in the intermission which some commented on seemed like a eulogy at a funeral.
Throwing someone under the bus is never cool. Throwing someone under the bus who helped save your career on multiple instances like Cherry did to MacLean? Nearly unforgivable, in Canada’s books.
2. Jessica Yaniv
In terms of skyrocketing from someone who was completely unknown to the general public, all the way to being public enemy number one within the span of only a few months, few can claim they’d done it better than Jessica Yaniv.
For those somehow still unfamiliar with Yaniv, her case made international headlines after news broke that Yaniv, who is a biological male and has male genitalia, sought out immigrant-own salons, attempting them to force women to wax her scrotum.
The public was immediately against her, and it just got worse for Yaniv from there. While her case was going viral, Yaniv appeared on TPM contributor and YouTube star Blaire White’s live stream to discuss allegations of sexually predatory behaviour from Yaniv towards minors. During that stream, Yaniv revealed that she had a stun gun, an illegal weapon and Canada, to which she was eventually charged.
1. Jessica Allen
Though most felt as though the firing of Don Cherry was unjust, Jess Allen from CTV’s The Social decided to rock the boat by lambasting Cherry and the importance that hockey has to Canadians.
“I’m told he’s a Canadian icon, and he’s a symbol of the great sport of hockey, which is the sport that unites us across this country, and that narrative is the one that strikes a nerve with me, because I don’t worship at the altar of hockey, I never have,” said Allen.
“Maybe it’s because of where I grew up, and going to a couple different universities. In my mind, in my experience, who does. They all tended to be white boys, who weren’t very nice, they weren’t very thoughtful they were often bullies, their parents were able to afford to spend $5000 a year on minor hockey. You could do other things than spend time in an arena, you could go on a trip and learn about the world. See other things. The world is a big place, maybe get outside of that bubble.”
For those comments, Allen was ridiculed online. And for that, Allen lands on our list of biggest losers of 2019.
Shortly after Andrew Scheer’s accidental Conservative leadership victory, I was having beers with some dejected party faithful, who bemoaned the outcome and their fraught involvement with Dragon’s Den investment mogul Kevin O’Leary’s abandoned campaign.
My drinking compadres could best be described as the millennial generation of hardcore Conservative supporters. And by hardcore, I mean they volunteer for campaigns–municipal, provincial or federal, wherever a hopeful they like may be–engaging in the thankless campaign drudgery of door-knocking and pamphleting, sometimes for days on end.
The more experienced among them even contribute to strategy, and for their efforts are often rewarded with work with victorious MPs. Others in these tight-knit circles that exist among all parties, also end up in the bureaucracy or at NGOs in the Ottawa beltway’s revolving door of organized politics, PR and public service gigs.
All of us had witnessed U.S. President Donald Trump’s election victory the previous November, and argued how Mr. Wonderful’s similar bombast might have played in his favour. On that subject, we could agree that O’Leary’s no-nonsense, direct manner with the media was his strongest quality.
Take for example the answer to a question about his French speaking ability, early on in Conservative leadership campaign: “I speak the language of jobs”, was peak O’Leary and a beautiful response worth pounding away on. Jobs. Economy. Jobs. Economy.
But in the end, O’Leary loathed the grind of on-the-ground politicking and despite a decent chance of victory, he pulled the plug and threw his chips in with a loser.
Insofar as political stratagem, it’s the kind of choice that separates an O’Leary from a Trump. Trump would never leave this sort of thing to chance and plays to win, while Mr. Wonderful gambled that a third of his supporters would vault Maxime Bernier to a first-ballot victory.
But in the field of 12 remaining candidates that included now-viable successors to Scheer–Erin O’Toole and Lisa Raitt–thirteen rounds later, Scheer squeaked out the win and the rest was history.
Not withstanding searing bouts of rhetoric from stalwart front benchers like Pierre Poilievre or Michelle Rempel, federal Conservatives remained stuck behind a simpatico leadership approach that stretched through the last election.
Even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s antics, scandals and world-stage gaffes piled up, including Time Magazine revelations of avid blackface enthusiasm through our PM’s 20s–during an increasingly bitter election, no less–Scheer could never quite convert that into his advantage.
And Scheer’s leadership strategy never really diverged from this idea he could win by being a regular Joe – easy to be around and in other words not the millionaire playboy that the country’s 2015 choice for PM was turning out to be.
This failed programme was ultimately compounded by Scheer’s inability to square his personal religious views in a manner that the wider public could trust, on protecting gay, lesbian and trans rights and the incredibly polarizing issue of abortion.
By the time Scheer got around to showing any gumption on this subject–the memorable “is being gay a sin” exchange–he was scrumming with reporters after surviving a losing election post-mortem revolt at the party’s national caucus.
This time around, Conservatives need to find a winner. It seems a no-brainer, but this winner, wherever he/she/they may be, needs to be the sort who prevails in more than a leadership race or internal review.
This leader has to be the type of person where winning courses through their veins and maybe require an outsider with more zest for the glad-handing politics’ of the rubber chicken circuit than Mr. Wonderful had.
TRIGGER WARNING: During his Coach’s Corner prime, Don Cherry would have brought the perfect sort of everyman, energy required for such work –a Ralph Klein on blades – if only the leadership came å la sidekick Ron Maclean, playing Grapes’ foil of course.
Back in a post “you people” matrix, outsiders like Alberta energy tycoon Brett Wilson–another Dragon’s Den alumnus–as well as behavioural psychologist Jordan Peterson, have been bandied about social media as great replacements.
But if yardstick be real-world experience, paired with an ability to communicate effectively with a wider public, either are credible options especially given that Trudeau’s relative inexperience outside of politics was often compared to Scheer’s own career-politics trajectory, outside of briefly flogging insurance.
Back on the inside, former Conservative MPs who earned their stripes in previous Stephen Harper governments–former cabinet ministers Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose–remain potential and formidable contenders if they choose to throw in their hats.
While MacKay has not ruled it out, Ambrose has indicated she’s not interested. Nevertheless, it’s early days with plenty of time to convince Ambrose she’s the perfect counterpoint to Trudeau.
Unlike MacKay’s Laurentien elite provenance, Ambrose’s Albertan roots would provide the West strong representation in Parliament and “because it’s 2015”, Conservatives could walk Trudeau’s often empty, gender talk.
What MacKay has going for him is a deeper cabinet resume, having served as attorney general, foreign affairs and national defence minister in former Harper cabinets. In terms of pure political calculations, the West is already solidly blue while MacKay’s corner of the country could use his ability to attract Maritimes voters back into the Conservative fold.
At the moment, all comers would be considered in the context of taking on a Trudeau-led Liberal Party in the next federal election. And if Trudeau’s insatiable appetite for attention, or another SNC-Lavalin level scandal emerges, from which there are no reasonable escapes; the caucus could oust their golden boy and all bets are off.
To date there have been no official announcements, but MacKay is said to be in preparations and O’Toole, a former Royal Canadian Air Force navigator and minister of Veterans Affairs, reportedly told “high-profile” Conservatives at a Friday Christmas party of his intentions to run.