Hockey legend Don Cherry just went into the penalty box for life. You might say he was whistled for "slashing" political correctness. The seventh-greatest Canadian who ever lived will never grace television airwaves in his homeland again, all because he urged immigrants to support Remembrance Day (Canada's version of Veterans Day) by purchasing poppies. The former hockey player and NHL coach was fired Monday from his role as a commentator for Sportsnet's Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts.
In a two-paragraph statement Monday afternoon, Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley said:
"Sports brings people together — it unites us, not divides us. Following further discussions with Don Cherry (at right in photo with Ron MacLean) after Saturday night's broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down.
"During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for."
The Canadian Broadcast Corporation also commented, stating: "Don Cherry's remarks on Saturday night were divisive, discriminatory and offensive, and we respect Sportsnet's decision that this is the right time for Don to step down."
Gregory Strong, of The Canadian Press, writes, "Brash, outspoken, opinionated — longtime hockey broadcaster Don Cherry was never afraid to ruffle feathers during his Coach's Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada. This latest outburst cost him his job."
Just what did Cherry, 85, actually say Saturday night that was so inflammatory and so hurtful to immigrants and liberal snowflakes?:
"I live in Mississauga [Ontario]. Very few people wear the poppy. Downtown Toronto, forget it. Nobody wears the poppy. ... Now you go to the small cities. You people ... that come here, whatever it is -- 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. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price for that."
The PC backlash was immediate and furious. Members of the media called for his scalp and within 48 hours they got it. Yabsley apologized, saying, "Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network. We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."
The National Hockey League and Hockey Canada distanced themselves from Cherry. It was a "justifiable response," the NHL said.
On Twitter, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie called Cherry's remarks "despicable." "We're proud of diverse cultural heritage and we'll always stand up for it. New immigrants enrich our country for the better. We're all Canadians and wear our poppies proudly."
Cherry's two-faced co-host Ron MacLean gave him a thumbs-up on Saturday night. Then when the heat got hot, he threw Cherry under the bus with an apology. MacLean said on Twitter, "It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it."
Through the storm, Cherry refused to apologize. "I have had my say," he told a Canadian newspaper. After getting canned, Cherry said, "I know what I said and I meant it. Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honor our fallen soldiers. To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot."
ESPN's Greg Wyshynski wrote that it was one too many controversies for the iconic Cherry that did him in, portraying him as something of a Neanderthal who encouraged fighting in hockey, discouraged female reporters entering male locker rooms and labeled climate change fanatics "cuckaloos."
Cherry also said he'd been ridiculed by left-wing pinkos for being a church-goer.