MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Don Cherry is refusing to apologize for his controversial rant about new immigrants not wearing poppies, saying he could have kept his job as co-host of “Coach’s Corner” if he’d agreed to become “a tame robot who nobody would recognize.”
Sportsnet has cut ties with the long-time co-host of the Hockey Night in Canada segment, saying in a statement that following discussions with Cherry, it was decided it was the “right time for him to immediately step down.”
Cherry said in an interview on Toronto radio station KISS 92.5 that he meant what he said when he made the remarks on Saturday night, and still believes everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honour fallen soldiers.
“It makes no sense at all. If you see what I said, I did not say immigrants, what I said was everybody, and I meant everybody,” he said, adding that what he said applies to English, Scottish or Irish immigrants or any newcomer.
“Somehow or other it’s been misinterpreted. I’ve visited [the] Armed Forces, the bases, I’ve been out in Afghanistan at Christmas and I walk the walk, and I meant every word I said and I don’t take it back,” Cherry continued. “If I have to turn into a tame robot to keep my job, I don’t think people would like that. I refuse to knuckle under and so I’m fired.”
When Maurie Sherman, who was conducting the interview, asked Cherry what he had to say to those who wanted him fired, Cherry said: “F— ’em.”
Organizations including the Royal Canadian Legion, Budweiser, and the NHL have all characterized the comments as hurtful and divisive. Posters with Cherry’s face and the words “not wanted” have also popped up in Ladner.
There is no word on a possible replacement for the long-time commentator, and Cherry himself said he doesn’t have any immediate plans, but has received an offer in Russia. He added he’s getting many phone calls and texts of support.
Rogers, which owns Sportsnet, is also the parent company of this radio station and website.