Divisive Comments by a Hockey Institution Prompt Calls for His Firing

Divisive Comments by a Hockey Institution Prompt Calls for His Firing


Cherry has been uncharacteristically quiet, suggesting to a columnist at The Toronto Sun that he wasn’t backing down or apologizing.

“I have had my say,” he told the newspaper.

But on a broadcast on Sunday, Ron MacLean, the co-host of “Coach’s Corner,” disowned Cherry’s remarks.

“Don Cherry made remarks that were hurtful, discriminatory, which were flat-out wrong,” MacLean said. “I owe you an apology too. That’s the big thing I want to emphasize. I sat there, I did not catch it, I did not respond.”

“Hockey Night in Canada” provides Cherry with a powerful pulpit. Almost from the time it first aired on CBC television in 1952, the show has enjoyed one of the largest audiences in English-language Canadian television.

In 2014, however, the N.H.L. rights for English-language broadcasts in Canada passed from the CBC, a public broadcaster owned by the federal government, to Rogers Communications, a cable television and cellphone company and broadcaster, which also owns the Toronto Blue Jays and is one of two partners in the company behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors.

In an unusual arrangement to maintain the tradition of free, over-the-air broadcasts of “Hockey Night in Canada,” the CBC now broadcasts Rogers’s production of the games on Saturday with all the advertising revenue flowing to Rogers. Chuck Thompson, a spokesman for the CBC, said the CBC had no control over the production, including the decision to use Cherry, although it also allows Rogers to use its logo in connection with the show, which is streamed on the CBC’s online platforms. Thompson said the network raised its “serious concerns” about Cherry’s remarks with Rogers on Saturday night.

Through its Sportsnet cable channel, Rogers apologized for Cherry, but did not indicate if his role in “Hockey Night in Canada” was under review.

Cherry’s political views are not the only thing that have dogged him in recent years. Long an advocate of a rough style of hockey — he once marketed hockey highlight videos as “Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em Hockey” — his analysis has come to be seen by many as dated in an age where speed and skill have become more important to the game.





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