Cherry now says he recognizes how his poppy comments 'hurt some people'
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, November 12, 2019 4:42PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 13, 2019 8:46AM EST
Ousted hockey broadcaster Don Cherry says he wanted to adjust, but not offer a full on-air apology for his comments targeting immigrants who he felt weren’t wearing poppies telling CTV News Toronto that the whole matter “could’ve been smoothed over” but the network didn’t give him a chance to do what he wanted.
“First of all, I said, ‘you people out there,’” Cherry said. “I would have changed that if I had the chance to do it over again to ‘everybody,’ to work it in like that,” Cherry told CTV News Toronto’s Michelle Dubé in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “’You people,’ I can see how it hurt some people, I really can see it, but I would have said that, and I said if I hurt anybody, then I’m sorry about it.”
Cherry’s contrition stands in stark contrast to what he told Newstalk 1010’s Barb DiGiulio on Monday night, that Rogers Sportsnet gave him the opportunity to stay on Coach’s Corner, provided he offer an apology, but he refused because he’d “rather go out with my shield.”
On his program on Saturday, Cherry said that new people in his hometown of Mississauga and those who live in downtown Toronto don’t wear poppies around Remembrance Day.
He contrasted them with those who live in "small towns."
“You people love, that come here -- whatever-- 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," Cherry said, with Coach’s Corner co-host Ron McLean looking on. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."
Sportsnet announced his dismissal on Monday afternoon.
Cherry indicated Tuesday he was not given an opportunity to do what he thought would make things right.
“I think that it could have been smoothed over. I think that it could’ve, I think I could’ve said things to help people if they are hurt,” the 85-year-old former NHL coach said. “But if you get fired right off the bat. It’s not going to change now.”
“We could have worked something out Saturday, but they didn’t want to have anything to do with that.”
He later said he "volunteered" to make some sort of statement about the matter on social media but "it wasn't enough."
"But they wanted me to go beyond that and I wouldn't do it,” he said of the network.
Cherry’s comments prompted separate apologies from the NHL, Sportsnet, and Cherry’s longtime Coach’s Corner partner Ron McLean.
Cherry told Dubé his removal hasn’t really hit him yet.
“I still can’t believe I am not going to be on Coach’s Corner,” he said. “I suppose after next week and we settle down and everything, it will hit then.”
He insisted to Dubé that he believes he is correct in his assessment that not enough people in Toronto and Mississauga wear poppies to honour veterans on Remembrance Day, and that the “silent majority” of Canadians agree with him.
McCallion speaks out in support of Cherry
Misissauga’s former mayor, Hazel McCallion, issued a statement Tuesday seemingly justifying Cherry’s rant on Saturday.
“I have noticed a decline of Canadians participating in the Armistice Day Services and wearing of the Poppy,” she said. “That is what angered Don Cherry to make the comments he made on Hockey Night in Canada.”
She said Cherry “is proud of his country and supports all Canadians.”
“All through his life he has supported the armed forces and veterans and especially on Hockey Night in Canada.”
Not Cherry’s first controversy
In his 37 years with Coach’s Corner, often revealed controversial political views.
In 2010, Cherry appeared at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s inauguration, sporting a pink suit.
“I'm wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything," he said at the event, later saying that left-leaning politicians in the city and their supporters “scrape the bottom of the barrel.”
In 2013, he said that he didn’t believe female reporters should be able to access locker rooms of professional male athletes.
In 2016, in the wake of U.S. President Trump’s election, he told “left wing kook” Americans not to move to Canada.
In 2017, he criticized the kneeling protests that circulated through the National Football League, where players kneeled during the Star Spangled Banner to protest the treatment of black people by American police, mocking media coverage of the movement.