Sportsnet’s Don Cherry Attacks Immigrants on CBC

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


Don Cherry took to the national airwaves Saturday night to call out immigrants for failing to wear poppies honouring war veterans. The discussion came at the end of his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada, which is broadcast on CBC with Rogers owned Sportsnet collecting the advertising revenue. This arrangement is part of the $5.2 billion dollar deal that gave Sportsnet exclusive rights to national NHL broadcasts in Canada. The video was initially posted to Sportsnet’s website and social media channels but has since been removed. The segment can be seen via this CP story on CBC which includes the video.


“I live in Mississauga, nobody … very few people … wear a poppy. Downtown Toronto, forget it, nobody wears a poppy … Now you go to the small cities … And the rows on rows … you people who 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. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price … Anyhow, I’m going to run [a video segment about veterans] for you people and good Canadians that bought a poppy.”


The speech clearly contrasts “new” Canadians with “good” Canadians, and is for that reason rightly being denounced as racist. A message encouraging all Canadians to be good Canadians by honouring war veterans would not have raised any such concerns. Ron MacLean ended the segment by saying “we love you for it” and giving a thumbs up.


There has been no comment by Sportsnet PR on why the video was removed. Sportsnet recently launched the tagline “United By Sport” to advertise their various offerings. At this time no one from Sportsnet’s vast stable of hockey personalities has publicly denounced Cherry’s remarks. It’s worth noting that none of TSN’s major hockey voices have commented either. Title sponsor Budweiser Canada has also been silent thus far.



We are attempting to reach Sportsnet management for comment. Story will be updated as new information becomes available.


Update: 11:20am on Sunday November 10th, 2019. Sportsnet issued the following statement via twitter:



Update: 6:30pm on Sunday November 10th 2019. Ron MacLean opened Rogers Hometown Hockey with this statement:



Update: as of 3:06pm on November 11, 2019 Don Cherry is no longer with Sportsnet:



On Saturday November 16th 2019 Ron MacLean addressed the end of Coach’s Corner (multiple unskippable ads)



Jeff Blair addressed the decision to fire Don Cherry on FAN590:



TSN also addressed it during their supper hour television broadcast:



On the radio side, TSN1050’s Overdrive spent a segment at the top decrying what you can’t say in “this day and age” and how social media and pressure from sponsors was probably behind this decision. None of the hosts actually cited the comments or spoke about how Cherry targeted immigrants who are visible minorities. Jeff O’Neil was especially dismissive of the merits of the decision, suggesting that perhaps Cherry wanted to get fired. Bryan Hayes several times noted that this is a business decision by Sportsnet. McLennan several times called the comments unfortunate. Here is the full audio:



Tim & Sid also devoted significant time to the topic, including reading the comments for which Cherry was fired. Seixeiro was especially worked up about how Don Cherry didn’t think about how his comments would affect his colleagues at Sportsnet. “He’s an awful teammate.” Micallef provided some very nuanced thoughts on how difficult it was to watch this situation unfold without knowing whether an apology would be forthcoming. Parts 1 and 2 of that discussion are below:




Jonah appeared on CTV to discuss the aftermath of the firing. He and Steve McAllister also sat down for a podcast:



Here are some notable tweets from Toronto media:








And here are some notable articles that have trickled out since the incident:


  • Bruce Arthur of The Star: “But whenever it ends it will be a cultural battleground, a proxy war over Canada, and a part of it should be this: People often say hockey, and Canada, is for everyone. But the doddering old high priest of hockey keeps saying that isn’t true.”


  • Simon Houpt of Globe (not sports): “Is it possible that Yabsley, who was appointed Sportsnet president only last March, hadn’t been read in on the Cherry file? Or that he’d always found something else to do on Saturday nights during the past 39 years, and somehow had just never caught Cherry on Coach’s Corner? Because how else could he be shocked! shocked! to find that Cherry might say something hateful? Cherry’s offensiveness – and not just in his wardrobe choices – is the primary pillar of his brand.


  • Sunaya Sapurji of The Athletic: “There is no question Cherry is a Canadian icon. An icon of Canada’s past. A relic from an old game that no longer exists. We don’t need a TV arbiter to tell us who the “good Canadians” are — we never did.”


  • Gregory Strong of Canadian Press: “The network may choose to recognize the massive impact Cherry had as a commentator, but it would be tricky to balance that with his rather ignominious exit. A career overview could buy some time since the seat might be a little too hot for an immediate replacement.”



thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

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