Legendary National Hockey League analyst Don Cherry is not going away quietly and by the sounds of things, at least to hear him tell it, it does not sound like he is going to be going away at all.
It has now been 3 weeks since Cherry made his infamous comments regarding Canadian immigrants and Remembrance Day and today will mark the third time that Hockey Night in Canada will air without Coach's Corner being a part of the show. To say that it has been a jolting transition for all of those involved would be a massive understatement, Cherry has been fired, his co-host Ron MacLean has been inundated with criticism from both sides of the issue and Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet, Rodgers and the CBC have lost arguably one of the biggest draws to their programming and have been left scrambling to find a replacement. This week the HNIC crew will once again try to produce something even a fraction as memorable as any of Cherry's segments over the years, but while they struggle Don Cherry seems to be soaking it all in.
Cherry says he has been flooded with support from fans, both from around the world and even in his local neighborhood when he is out for a walk with his dog.
“It is unbelievable, I never expected this — the firemen going by, beeping their horns,” said Don Cherry in a recent conversation with The Athletic. “Truckers are stopping and giving thumbs-up in the neighbourhood. I never expected any of this. It’s taken a life of its own.”
As we have moved further and further away from that fateful day on November 11th when Cherry was fired it seems as though the long time host of Coach's Corner has grown more and more comfortable with speaking out against his former employers. It is no secret that Rogers and Sportsnet have made massive cutbacks since acquiring the rights to the NHL broadcast for a whopping $5.232 billion and now Cherry is saying that he believes that there was a target on his back even prior to his now infamous comments.
“I think that they were after me, if you want my true opinion,” he said. “That’s the way I feel about it. I don’t whine about it. I lost my job. I don’t have any income, and I don’t whine about it.”
You might think Cherry is crazy but there are some things worth noting here. For one Coach's Corner is a pre-tapped segment but in spite of the fact that Sportsnet would later claim that Cherry's comments did not align with their values, their producers allowed it to go to air. Additionally Cherry was almost certainly a very expensive piece of their broadcast on HNIC and no doubt those in charge of cost cutting as Sportsnet scales back its coverage viewed him as a prime target for saving some of those very same costs.
The always vocal Cherry was of course visibly hurt by his firing at the time, but it sounds like he has taken it all in stride and is proud to have stood by his convictions in spite of what it may have cost him in the end.
“I have no regrets. I’m still sailing along. And that’s the way it should be. I didn’t go out quietly, let’s put it that way.”
I don't think anyone would ever dare accuse Don Cherry of being quiet.