Don Cherry was a divisive voice on one of Canada’s most popular television program for decades. The former coach started appearing on Hockey Night in Canada in 1980, and held down his Coach’s Corner post (opposite Ron MacLean) from 1987 until today.
He was let go for xenophobic comments that he decided to being with “You people”, though it’s probably fair to say that his refusal to apologize for said comments also played a hefty role.
Simply put, it was way past time for Cherry to go.
Anyone who watched him on Coach’s Corner during the past—oh I dunno, at least 15 years—did not take a single sensible thing away from the broadcast.
Putting his underlying racism aside for a quick second, it was very hard weekend after weekend to see Cherry go out there and spit nonsense about hockey. The game had passed him by in such a way that it was hard to watch. He didn’t get players names right. He said Jordan Binnington should win the Calder Trophy.
In 2011, no less than Daniel Sedin spoke out about some Cherry comments (in particular about how Vancouver “whined” at officials), saying that Cherry has "said a few things that are borderline the last couple of weeks.”
Of course, that quote could be used for any period of time in the last two decades.
Which brings us to some of his disgraceful comments about Canadian society in general.
There was calling Winnipeg Jets assistant coach Alpo Suhonen “dog food.”
There were comments about French and European players wearing visors (which are almost universally used now).
There was support for Stephen Harper, and an assertion that Rob Ford would be the best mayor Toronto has ever seen (narrator: he wasn’t).
And of course, last year he called those who believe in climate change “cuckaloos” on national TV.
(We’re sure were missing many of them, but, as with a majority of Canadians we had gotten into the habit of putting Coach’s Corner on mute.)
Some, like TSN 1040’s Don Taylor (and many of his call-in guests), defended Cherry.
While denouncing his comments, Taylor said that he thought Cherry’s status as a Canadian icon would have afforded him another shot and that he definitely shouldn’t have been fired on Remembrance Day because of his ardent support for the troops.
Taylor also noted that in a countrywide 2004 CBC competition, Cherry was dubbed the seventh-greatest Canadian of all time.
I remember that poll. I was a teenager and voted for Cherry, because, unlike many of the other people on the list, I had an innate familiarity with him from his weekly appearances in my living room.
(For some perspective, Wayne Gretzky came 10th.)
I hope CBC does the list again at some point soon, because I have to think that many Canadians would like a redo on that one. I sure would.
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