Fired NHL broadcasting legend Don Cherry doubled down Monday on remarks he made alleging that Canadian immigrants had failed to honor the nation’s fallen military heroes, but denied that his comments were racially motivated.
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Sportsnet fired Cherry, 85, on Monday, days after he sparked widespread condemnation for referring to immigrants as “you people” and criticizing them for not wearing poppies to honor military veterans ahead of the Remembrance Day holiday. Cherry hosted the “Coach’s Corner” segment on Sportsnet’s “Hockey Night in Canada,” one of the highest-rated segments on Canadian television.
In his first public comments since Sportsnet announced its decision, Cherry said he had “no problem” with being fired and refused to apologize.
“I know what I said and I meant it,” Cherry told the Toronto Sun. “Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honor our fallen soldiers.”
Sportsnet holds exclusive rights to broadcast NHL games in Canada. In a statement announcing Cherry’s dismissal, the network said his comments were “divisive” and “do not represent our values or what we stand for.”
Cherry’s remarks came during the “Hockey Night in Canada” segment last Saturday night.
"You people love — they come here, whatever it is — you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey," Cherry said at the time. "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.”
Sportsnet issued an initial apology for Cherry’s remarks last Sunday before opting to fire him a day later. Ron MacLean, Cherry’s co-host on “Coach’s Corner,” also apologized.
Cherry told the Toronto Sun his comments were meant to be patriotic.
“To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot,” Cherry said.