Don Cherry will no longer be a part of “Hockey Night in Canada”. Cherry was removed from his position after calling out Canadians for not buying poppies last Saturday. His comments were viewed offensive by Sportnest and many viewers. They made this statement regarding the situation.
The longtime host of “Coaches Corner” has been both an ambassador for hockey and a controversial figure for decades. He was first hired as a broadcaster for CBC in 1980. The 85-year-old Cherry has been a part of “Coaches Corner” with Ron MacLean since 1986.
Bobby Orr was asked about Cherry on WEEI’s Ordway Merloni and Fauria. “First off here, I’m not going to get into a long thing here about (Cherry),” Orr explained. “I know Grapes better than anybody. He’s not a bigot. He’s not a racist.”
Orr then mentioned that host Glen Ordway also knows Cherry. “(Cherry) is the most generous caring guy that I know,” Orr continued. “And what they’ve done to him up there is just disgraceful. It really is.”
Orr then sighs, “It’s a new world I guess,” and then chuckles. He goes on to say, “freedom of speech doesn’t matter,” Orr mentions before laughing again.
“But he’s gonna be fine,” Orr continues. “I talk to him everyday and Grapes is gonna be fine. He’s getting some nice calls from his friends here in Boston. He is getting some wonderful support. He really is. But he’s hurt, but he’s gonna be fine. Grapes is gonna be just fine.”
Cherry’s longtime TV partner Ron MacLean also spoke about the situation. “Look, we are all hurting,” MacLean said on “Hockey Night in Canada”. “I have collapsed a hundred times this week if not more. We are all disappointed.”
MacLean continued, “I’ve sat all week long, reflecting. Listening to you, and I have heard you. I mean you the viewer. I’ve reflected by listening to my own heart.”
MacLean went on to say he has spoken with Cherry multiple times since last Saturday. “I don’t want to be cavalier in any regard,” he said. “I don’t want to be sanctimonious or righteous in this address that you and I are having. This one plunged deep into our hearts right.”
MacLean was clearly emotional about the entire situation and got into what he could have done differently. MacLean ended with, “I love you (Cherry) very much, and we honor you tonight in this last talk about a “Coaches Corner”.
Orr and MacLean have both known Cherry for decades. On social media, many people took issue with what Orr or MacLean said. Those who criticized Orr believed Cherry’s comments were indefensible. Even though they were friends, they believed Orr should have not defended Cherry. The other side criticized MacLean for not backing his friend. They thought MacLean should have been more supportive.
Please read part 2 about how “Spittin Chiclets” viewed this situation. I will also have some closing thoughts on the bigger picture surrounding Cherry’s departure.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones