It seems that just about everyone associated with National Hockey League legend Don Cherry has done their best to distance themselves from the NHL's most controversial curmudgeon in the past few days, but if you thought that this would have any impact on Cherry you may end up disappointed.
Cherry made waves on Saturday night when he went off on a rant regarding Remembrance Day and what he clearly feels is a lack of support for the fallen heroes who have allowed us to enjoy the freedoms that we have each and every day. It was quite obvious that this was quite a passionate topic for Cherry but it was one comment in particular during his rant that has landed him in some trouble.
"You people you come here 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," Cherry said during the controversial segment. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."
That statement has been perceived as an anti-immigrant sentiment rather than as one supporting the Canadian Armed Forces and as a result there has been significant backlash on social media regarding the comments from Cherry. Many have called for "Grapes" to be fired over his recent comments and earlier today his employers at Sportsnet issued a strongly worded statement condemning the words used by the legendary NHL analyst.
"Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network," read the statement. "We have spoke with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."
Although it would only come later in the day it appears as though the league itself felt the pressure from those outraged at the comments made by Cherry and issued a statement of their own. The statement from the NHL was very mild in nature and did not even go so far as to name Cherry directly.
"Hockey is at its best when it brings people together. The comments made last night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in."
Things got even worse for Cherry on Sunday when his longtime co-host and friend Ron MacLean also condemned the statements made by Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada. MacLean stated that he regretted not speaking up sooner, something that is of course much easier to say after the fact.
"I want to sincerely apologize to our viewers and Canadians," wrote MacLean on social media. "During last night's broadcast, Don made comments that were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently. It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it."
"I have worked with Don for 30 years, and we both love hockey. But last night, I know we failed you. I see hockey as part of what unites us. I have the honour of travelling across our country to celebrate Canada's game, and our diversity is one of our country's greatest strengths."
Regardless of how you feel about this issue I think it's fair to suggest that MacLean's words here ring a little empty. MacLean not only nodded as Cherry went on his rant last night but gave a thumbs up to Cherry at the end of said rant, and it seems like this comes now only as a result of the backlash that he and his employers have faced.
Finally late on Sunday evening we learned that Cherry himself had taken the time to respond to all the criticism, and as you would expect from Cherry the veteran analyst was not about to issue any kind of apology. Cherry spoke to Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun and made it clear that there would be no apology and that he stood by what he said.
“I have had my say,” said Cherry on Sunday as per the Toronto Sun.
If you read the statement issued by both the National Hockey League and Sportsnet over the weekend there may be a good reason that Cherry feels no need to express remorse. Neither statement goes anywhere near suggesting that Don Cherry will be replaced, and Cherry may very well be confident that his job is safe and sound for the timing being. One thing is certain is that if Cherry is sticking around we are likely in for a very interesting episode of Coach's Corner come next weekend.
If you missed the original rant you can view it in our first report on this matter from earlier today.