Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Don Cherry is in the news, and once again, it’s not for a good reason.
On his segment “Coaches Corner” on “Hockey Night in Canada,” Cherry went on an anti-immigrant rant on Saturday night criticizing “you people” for not respecting veterans. Veterans Day will be celebrated tomorrow and many honor those who’ve served by wearing or displaying red poppies. Cherry’s appalling remarks disparaged those who he claims are taking advantage of other’s sacrifices. He essentially said that everyone should by a poppy flower, and does not respect anyone’s individual beliefs or attitudes, especially anyone who has immigrated to Canada.
Cherry’s network, Sportsnet, issued one of the flimsiest apologies ever for Cherry’s comments. They said that they spoke with Cherry and that his remarks do not represent the entire company. They apologized on his behalf on Sunday and then fired him on Monday.
Some of the other insulting outbursts that have gotten Cherry in trouble recently, and led up to this moment, are when he referred to the Carolina Hurricanes as “a bunch of Jerks” and also calling Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov a jerk for a celebration. Real original, Don.
The “Bunch of Jerks” comment blew up in his face as the Hurricanes rallied around it, and made the term a positive part of their team personality. Their postgame “Storm Surge” celebrations were fun, and fans, except for Cherry, enjoyed them.
Cherry took issue with Kuznetsov for his famed bird celly saying: “Watch the jerk here now after he scores a goal,” Cherry. “This is a very important game here. This is like the two best teams here. Now he does the jerk thing like this. Now watch the overtime goal Hedman gets.”
Long story short, Cherry hates fun.
Whether it’s a few celebrations or bigoted remarks about immigrants, Cherry’s rhetoric hurts the growth and popularity of the NHL. It’s no secret that the NHL is not the most diverse league, but they’re looking to make progress with the “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative. This campaign aims to grow the game of hockey for anyone who wants to be a part of it, regardless of race or sexual orientation.
But what kind of message does it send to interested fans and players when one of the biggest media personalities in the sport, Don Cherry is a bigot who hates it when players express themselves? He is also against any form of diversity or “non-traditional” activities.
His firing finally sends a message that this behavior won’t be tolerated. It’s a little late, but at least progress is being made.