You people that come here … whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy, the host said, later receiving a near-speechless thumbs-up from his co-host, Ron MacLean, in response.
Video: Don Cherry isnt apologizing for comments on Canadian newcomers
WARMINGTON: Grapes feeling the love from supporters
READ MORE: Don Cherry firing doesnt solve problem his poppy comments highlighted, WWI historian says
Cherry, who initially refused to apologize for his controversial rant and said he could have kept his job as co-host of Coachs Corner if hed agreed to become a tame robot who nobody would recognize, has since told Global News that, given the chance, he would have chosen his words differently.
Many Canadians were quick to come to the defence of those who immigrated, condemning the divisive nature of Cherry’s remarks.
Ammar Naseer, 34, a product financial manager in Toronto whose family immigrated from Pakistan to Toronto when he was 15 years old, purchased all the poppies at his local Loblaws and handed them out for free in Mississauga, Ont., a community known for its large immigrant population.
“It’s easy to blame people,” said Naseer. “When we use the words ‘you people,’ that seems to isolate classes of people. That seems to be divisive for society, and it really is hurtful.“
“It’s not only just people who immigrated here themselves but also people whose parents may have come here, people who are visible minorities who are not necessarily even immigrants, who feel the divisiveness and the undertone that ‘you people’ signifies.”
Coach cornered as viewers decide he went too far
Naseer said he noticed a decline in the number of stores in his neighbourhood selling poppies and made a case for alternative ways of showing solidarity with Canadian troops.
“Maybe we need to work towards better solutions which can show solidarity or social signalling,” he said.
Video: Don Cherry on what he meant by you people in divisive poppy comments
Noor Youssef, 15, a cadet sergeant with the Canadian Armed Forces, called specific points of Cherry’s rant “unfair.”
The veteran sportscaster — who lost his job with Sportsnet on Monday for his remarks about immigrants not wearing poppies — says his dismissal all came down to poor phrasing.
Video: Don Cherry admits he should have used different words
During the Coach's Corner segment on Saturday, Cherry said of immigrants: "You people … 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.
Don Cherry says he wont apologize for his divisive comments about new immigrants not wearing poppies, but the former co-host of Coachs Corner says if he could do it again, he would have chosen different words.
"These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."
"The CBC for a very long time made a lot of money from Don Cherry, and so did Sportsnet for a time," he said, despite the fact that "no one, for the last almost 20 years … has been able to control Don Cherry and what he says."
On Tuesday, Cherry told CBC, "I think using the two words 'you people,' I think that had to do it," referring to his dismissal.
Cherry added that his many good deeds — he mentioned helping Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi with the launch of his book on growing up with diabetes — are being overshadowed by his word choice.
"Don's bigotry used to be a kind of a hockey bigotry," he said. "It was 'chicken Swedes.' It was 'untrustworthy Russians'. It was even [insults about] French Canadians."
"Not a word was said about that, but you used two words and that's where it goes," said Cherry.
When his parents first came to Canada, "they were the generation that were just trying to survive, make ends meet and had to turn the other cheek," he told The Current's interim host Laura Lynch.
"I think it was a mistake," he said. But I think the big thing was that I should have said 'everybody' — that was the big, big thing."
"They were far and away saying, 'Good riddance, we're glad that this time is over with Don Cherry because of what he's been saying over the last five to 10 years,'" she said.
I WANT DON BACK: Hazel supports Cherry as rally planned
On Wednesday, Ron MacLean, Cherry's co-host on Coach's Corner, told the CBC he would be on this Saturday's broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada, but declined further comment until then.
"I am not saying anything yet to the subject right now," MacLean said on Wednesday. "I have to have these days to make sure I'm right in what I say this weekend. To think about all that is going on and process it. And that's where I'm at. And I'll leave it at that."
On an NHL broadcast on Sunday, MacLean did apologize for Cherry's remarks and his lack of response.
Domi wouldn't say if he agreed with Sportsnet's decision, but was quick to express admiration for a man he calls a family friend.
It was these same people — you know, the ones who have been used to justify his platform on Hockey Night in Canada since the 1980s — who decided last weekend that, this time, he went too far. The backlash from viewers was swift, with many taking to social media. #FireDonCherry began trending on Twitter and, by Monday, Sportsnet did just that.
"I love Don Cherry. I always have, always will," Domi said on Tuesday after the Habs' morning skate. "He's a big reason why most of us play hockey. We grew up looking up to a guy like that, watching Coach's Corner and stuff. It's unfortunate what happened, it's sad. He's a big part of hockey."
Domi got to know Cherry when his dad, Tie, played in the NHL. Cherry regularly has voiced his support for tough players like Tie, who is third on the NHL's career penalty minutes list.
"I was pretty surprised they fired him," Cousins said. "But obviously you make those comments, it kind of puts them in a tough spot."
Instead of rolling their eyes, or smiling politely, or doing anything else that falls under the banner of that other Canadian sport, Being Nice, the viewers finally stood up to their xenophobic grandpa, and made it clear he’d no longer be welcome in their living rooms.
Few in francophone Quebec shed tears over firing of Don Cherry
"You grow up watching Hockey Night in Canada … every Saturday night he's on there and he's always got a pretty strong opinion on things. Sometimes he crosses the line. Obviously, he crossed the line there a couple nights ago. That's what happens nowadays. So it's tough to see."
Quebec Premier Francois Legault was far more critical — Cherry is "a bit of a clown," he said in an interview on Quebec City radio station FM 98.9.
"Effectively, I've often seen him dumping on francophones. Now he's doing it against immigrants … I think he shocks people for the sake of being shocking, for the pleasure of shocking.
"It was about time someone put him in his place, so I think it's a very good decision from Sportsnet," Legault added. "I'll be able to start watching hockey again in English."
In the Toronto Maple Leafs' locker room, meanwhile, the feeling was disappointment, both with Cherry's words on Saturday and the rough finish for a nearly 40-year run on HNIC.
“He’s a big reason why most of us play hockey,” Domi said. “We grew up watching Coach’s Corner and stuff. It’s unfortunate what happened. It’s sad. He’s a big part of hockey. That’s all really we can say, unfortunately, nowadays. But you know what, it’s unfortunate.”
The problem with demonizing Don Cherry is that he is not the problem. What readers think of his firing from Hockey Night in Canada
"I think he's meant a lot to the game and provided a lot," said Leafs captain John Tavares. "[It's] obviously disappointing, what happened and the result. I think everyone would wish something like this didn't happen and didn't come to these types of circumstances."
“If you notice, I never said ‘immigrants,’ I never said anything. I said ‘you people’ and they could have been Scottish, they could have been Irish, they could have been anything, but that’s the way the world is today,” Cherry added. “They listened to those people.”
"I'm not one to weigh into it too much, but what makes Canada great is the equality we have and how diverse our culture is," said Spezza, who was drafted first overall by the Mississauga IceDogs when Cherry was a part-owner of the Ontario Hockey League team in 1999.
"You don't like anything discriminatory that offends anyone, but Don is an icon. You don't like to see things end that way. He was someone that was part of hockey for a long time," he said.
"He's a legend in the hockey world," Hyman said. "He's been around hockey forever. I grew up watching him on TV. It was cool when he talked about me playing for the first time. That was awesome. But at the end of the day, you can't say stuff like that today."
Don Cherry Was Fired, So Who Will Replace Him On Hockey Night In Canada?
The story also was a hot topic in Boston, where Cherry used to coach the Bruins. Current Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was critical of Cherry's comments.
"Hockey versus politics, I try to stay away from that. I don't agree with what he said," Cassidy said. "I love the fact he was a great coach for the Bruins years ago, love the way the team played. But that's just not the way I think."
Meanwhile, a longtime friend, lawyer and business partner of Cherry's says the native of Kingston, Ont., is "disappointed on a lot of fronts."
Don Cherry speaks out about his firing from Sportsnet | Offside
"He's disappointed that some people he counted on — friends and allies in the media — turned on him at a time of need, and didn't give him support and in fact went out of their way to distance themselves from him," said Trevor Whiffen, a former general manager of the IceDogs and now the governor of the OHL's London Knights.
"Don is an extremely loyal person. Anybody that values loyalty expects loyalty. Don is always disappointed when those around him don't reciprocate."
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
Don Cherry reveals how hell spend first Saturday night after being fired
It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.