Canada’s Sportsnet fired legendary hockey broadcaster and analyst Don Cherry on Monday, days after he sparked widespread outrage during a live segment for accusing Canadian immigrants of failing to honor the country’s fallen military veterans.
“Sports brings people together – it unites us, not divides us. Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday night’s broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down,” Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley said in a statement. “During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.”
A fixture on Canadian television for the last four decades, Cherry, 85, hosted the “Coach’s Corner” segment on Sportsnet’s flagship program, “Hockey Night in America.” Cherry’s show, which airs during the first intermission of nightly hockey games, is the highest-rated programming on Canadian television, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Sportsnet holds the exclusive right to broadcast NHL games in Canada. During his “Coach’s Corner” segment last Saturday night, Cherry said he noticed immigrants were not wearing poppies to honor Canadian soldiers.
"You people love — they come here, whatever it is — you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey," Cherry said. "The least you could pay is a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys pay for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys pay the biggest price.”
Cherry faced immediate criticism for the remark. The NHL said his comments were “offensive and contrary to the values we believe in,” while Sportsnet’s Yabsley said Cherry’s “discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network.”
Cherry has yet to comment on his firing.
“Don is synonymous with hockey and has played an integral role in growing the game over the past 40 years. We would like to thank Don for his contributions to hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada,” Yabsley added.