Regardless of whose side you take in wake of the firing of Don Cherry, it’s still the end of an era that’s lasted nearly four decades.
The hockey world was stunned on Monday afternoon when the news broke that Sportsnet had fired Don Cherry after nearly 40 years on Hockey Night in Canada.
The firing came less than 48 hours after the 85-year-old made xenophobic remarks about immigrants not buying poppies for Remembrance Day. While the network and Ron MacLean have both apologized for the incident, Cherry refused.
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Last night, Cherry spoke to Barb Digiulio of Newstalk 1010 radio in Toronto, stating “there’s no doubt about it,” that he could have kept his job on Coach’s Corner, had he apologized.
“If I had gone on and said a few things and done a few things, I definitely would have been back,” Cherry told Digiulio. “I would have been feeling a lot worse if I had knuckled under and done things that they wanted me to do and not been myself on television.”
Cherry said, had he gone back as a “simp,” he would have been disappointed in himself.
“That’s the way I feel and I’m not changing it and I don’t regret a thing.”
When asked if he meant to single out new Canadians with his “you people” comment, Cherry said: “I meant everybody… I did not mean [new Canadians]. I did mean everybody.”
Cherry’s longtime Coach’s Corner sidekick and close friend Ron MacLean denounced the comments during his own apology on Sunday, saying: “Don Cherry made remarks that were hurtful, discriminatory, which were flat out wrong. We at Sportsnet have apologized, it certainly doesn’t stand for what Sportsnet or Rogers represents.”
When asked about MacLean, Cherry said: “The only thing I can say about that is I’m disappointed. I think anybody that knew Ron was disappointed and that’s all I’ll say about that,” before adding that he still considers him a friend.
Cherry continued to say that he’s been doing the NHL playoffs for longer than any “player or person,” stating that he’s been in the NHL for close to 40 years.
“Saturday night will be tough,” admitted Cherry. “[Sportsnet] feels they’re right and I feel I’m right.”
The 85-year-old Ontario-native stated that he’s “not whining” and “that’s the way it is. After 38 years, maybe it was time to go.”
Asked what he’ll be doing on Saturday night during Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry said: “I’ll be sitting having a couple of beers and wondering who’s gonna be on at the end of the first period,” before stating, “I’ll never be replaced.”