It's official, Don Cherry has "immediately stepped down" from his position with Rogers Sportsnet and CBC.
"It has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down," Sportsnet said in a statement Monday.
In case you missed it, Cherry ignited a firestorm of controversy this past weekend when he called Canadian immigrants "you people" and ripped them for not buying and wearing a poppy for Remembrance Day as a way of honouring Canadian veterans.
Check it out:
“You people... love our way of life, love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.”
Obviously, comments like that are bound to ruffle some feathers. Agree or disagree with Grapes, he was obviously not wise in choosing his words and, as a result, he's out of a job. The true irony is that Rogers elected to make this decision and announcement today, Remembrance Day.
Rogers issued an apologized on Sunday for Cherry's comments on "Coach's Corner" the previous day, about his belief that new immigrants don't wear poppies to show their support for veterans. But, the apology mostly rang hollow.
Toronto Sun reporter and Cherry's close friend Joe Warmington reports that Cherry is "quite hurt" by Rogers' decision to make this news official today on Remembrance Day.
Check it out:
Read below for more quotes from Warmington's phone interview with Cherry:
“I know what I said and I meant it. Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honour our fallen soldiers. I speak the truth and I walk the walk. I have visited the bases of the troops, been to Afghanistan with our brave soldiers at Christmas, been to cemeteries of our fallen around the world and honoured our fallen troops on Coach’s Corner.”
“To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot. I would have liked to continue doing Coach’s Corner. The problem is if I have to watch everything I say, it isn’t Coach’s Corner.
Cherry ended his interview with one final message for Canadians:
“Remember to wear your poppy to honour our fallen soldiers …
Click below to read the full article:
Ironically enough, the Canadian Legion has distanced itself from Cherry following the backlash he received this past weekend.
“Mr. Cherry’s personal opinion was hurtful, divisive and in no way condoned by the legion,” Thomas D. Irvine, CD, Dominion President, said in a statement emailed to the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran.
“His comments ran contrary to our own articles of faith which are based on respect for people from all backgrounds. We do remain appreciative of his passionate support for veterans.
“We know many new Canadians understand and welcome the tradition of the red poppy. For our part, we will continue to do our best to educate all citizens about the significance of this powerful symbol, and the meaning of Remembrance.”
Again, agree or disagree with Grapes on... well anything really, Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts will never be the same. Cherry has been an integral part of CBC broadcasts for over four decades. His knowledge of the game cannot be denied and he was truly light years ahead of other broadcasters when it comes to on-air personality. Once again, agree or disagree with Grapes but you cannot deny his impact on the game of hockey. He's an absolute legend and deserves to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
So now... where do we go from here, hockey fans? Does Rogers bring in a replacement for Grapes? Do they retire the Coach's Corner segment? Former NHLer executive turned Sportsnet broadcaster Brian Burke is an intriguing candidate to replace Cherry, but fans are decidedly mixed on that idea.
"Brian Burke" is currently trending on Twitter in Canada given all the talk about him replacing Cherry.
Check out some of these opinions:
And then there's this take from from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News:
And the best thing about all this is that Rogers, who let go two quality men in Nick Kypreos and John Shannon to keep Cherry, has the perfect replacement for Cherry right in its studio in Brian Burke. This was probably going to happen anyway, but Cherry’s latest indiscretion gives Rogers a ready-made excuse to part ways with Cherry and hand the keys to the first intermission kingdom to Burke. Preferably by this Saturday. Unlike Cherry, Burke has won a Stanley Cup. Like Cherry, Burke can be blustery and will appeal to the pro-fighting crowd that treats Cherry as though he should be considered for sainthood. But the thing about Burke is that he knows how to be controversial, bombastic and thought-provoking without crossing the lines of decency. He’s only recently removed from his career as a GM so he knows the league and its inner workings and he has a wealth of knowledge and insight. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to learn nuggets about the NHL of actual value than constantly hearing someone tell kids to cover the points?
To be honest... while I'm a Brian Burke fan, he's just not the same as Grapes. Putting him in Don's chair is just setting him up for failure. As said as it is, it's probably time to retire Coach's Corner forever.