Sportsnet finally soured on the man affectionately known as “Grapes.”
After nearly 40 years of hosting “Hockey Night in Canada,” Don Cherry was officially fired after making comments about immigrants not wearing poppies.
Cherry was no stranger to controversy during his time on the air, something that boosted his notoriety first place. He was brash, abrasive and occasionally downright offensive, but Sportsnet decided that his comments over the weekend crossed the line, and the end result was that Cherry got the ax.
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Now that Cherry is gone the question looms: who will replace the iconic Canadian on Hockey Night in Canada? We’ve assembled a list of potential candidates here.
1. Brian Burke
Of all the names on this list, Brian Burke is likely the front-runner to replace Cherry if they keep the Coach’s Corner segment alive. He’s been working with Sportsnet for over a year now, and possesses that same abrasive attitude that Cherry had.
Whether you’re a fan of Burke or not, the easiest thing to do would be to slide Burke into the driver’s seat for Coach’s Corner.
2. Ray Ferraro
Ray Ferraro has become a star colour commentator among hockey broadcasters. The Trail, BC native is not afraid to make a bold opinion when the time is right, and he has experience in an analyst role on television with TSN as well.
3. Pierre McGuire
Cherry was someone that you could laugh at when he made pronunciation mistakes or unpopular opinions. Current colour commentator Pierre McGuire would provide the same level of cringe and laughs, and he’s no stranger to controversy either.
4. Kevin Bieksa
One of the most beloved Vancouver Canucks players of all-time, Kevin Bieksa has dabbled in the broadcasting world since his departure from the NHL. He’s appeared on Sportsnet on multiple occasions, including his hilarious commentary during the All-Star festivities last season.
It’s long been mentioned that Bieksa would thrive in an analyst role. Having Bieksa as the focal point of Coach’s Corner would become must-watch television.
5. Jeremy Roenick
How do you think Cherry would feel if his replacement was an American? Roenick is no stranger to bold takes, as he fills in a similar role during NBC broadcasts.
6. Jeff O’Neill
Basically the Canadian version of Roenick, Jeff O’Neill is currently employed by TSN, but would he consider a swap if it meant that he would be the guy to replace Cherry?
7. John Garrett
John Garrett could replace racism with Cheese Whiz and ketchup.
A female perspective
8. Hayley Wickenheiser
The four-time Olympic gold medal champion has already called hockey an “old boys club.” Wouldn’t that be an ironic twist if Sportsnet rattled that narrative by having her host Coach’s Corner?
9. Christine Simpson
One of the most experienced hockey reporters out there, Christine Simpson has become well-known for providing insightful, in-depth interviews with other figures in hockey. She would be one of the most deserving people for a shot at this role.
10. Andi Petrillo
This Canadian broadcaster has been covering the NHL for more than a decade now. She previously held down a gig with Hockey Night in Canada before becoming the host of TSN’s Leafs Lunch.
Fiery bench bosses
11. Mike Babcock
Juicy take here. Just imagine Mike Babcock hosting his own segment right after the Toronto Maple Leafs give him the ax.
12. John Tortorella
Another coach that’s currently employed, but we’d all much rather see Tortorella back in the broadcast studio. However, that whole living in Canada thing could prove to be a problem.
13. Mike Keenan
Who wouldn’t love a little Mike Keenan rage on live television? Well, perhaps all the players he’s scarred over the years.
14. Charles Barkley
The superstar NBA broadcaster has already said that he prefers the NHL playoffs over the NBA playoffs. He’s the ultimate entertainer and he would provide an interesting perspective on a hockey broadcast.
15. Snoop Dogg
The legendary rapper has already dabbled in hockey broadcasts before, and it’s been a slice to watch every time.
He’s even referred to himself as “Dogg Cherry” before:
16. Will Ferrell/Ron Burgundy
A man who was born for broadcasting, there’s no doubt that Will Ferrell (or his alter ego, Ron Burgundy) would be a divisive yet hilarious figure to host Coach’s Corner.
17. A brand new segment
While there have been a wide range of candidates on this list, our last option here is the most likely scenario. As much as we all want to assume who Cherry’s replacement might be, what makes the most sense is for Sportsnet to move onto another segment entirely, rather than revamping Coach’s Corner.
For the first intermission of every Saturday night hockey game for nearly 40 years, Canadians have seen Don Cherry give his sizzling takes. That’s great if Sportsnet finds another voice to fill that void, but it certainly doesn’t have to be done in Cherry’s shadow.
In fact, it’s probably best if Sportsnet finds a new and creative way to both educate and entertain hockey fans… In a matter that isn’t going offside, of course.