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Don Cherry fired following 'you people' comments

Controversial broadcaster singled out immigrants Saturday for not wearing poppies
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Don Cherry was fired by Sportsnet today following comments he made regarding immigrants during a segment on Coach's Corner on Saturday. (Tony Saxon/GuelphToday)

After more than three decades hosting Coach's Corner every Saturday, Don Cherry has been fired, Sportsnet announced Monday.

The move comes after Saturday's segment in which Cherry went after immigrants in the Toronto area for not wearing poppies during the Remembrance Day season in Canada.

He said “you people” in describing immigrants, adding that they come to Canada “for milk and honey” but don't honour war veterans.

Co-host Ron MacLean didn't react Saturday, but on Sunday apologized for “not catching” what Cherry had said and not responding. Sportsnet also apologized Sunday, and Cherry's comments were roundly denounced.

The former Boston Bruins coach has not commented on the incident, only telling the Toronto Sun that he'll leave his comments as they are.

Bart Yabsley, president of Sportsnet which broadcasts NHL games in Canada, said in a statement that hockey is something that unites Canadians, and Cherry's comments were divisive.

“Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday's broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down,” Yabsley said in a statement. “During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.

“Don is synonymous with hockey and has played an integral role in growing the game over the past 40 years. We would like to thank Don for his contribution to hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada.”

Coach's Corner is a popular segment on "Hockey Night in Canada," which is broadcast on CBC in a sub-licensing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet.

Cherry, 85, singled out new immigrants in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., where he lives, for not honouring Canada's veterans and dead soldiers.

"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," Cherry said Saturday night. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."

"Don Cherry made remarks which were hurtful, discriminatory, which were flat out wrong ... I owe you an apology, too. I sat there, did not catch it, did not respond," MacLean said in his apology. "Last night was a really great lesson to Don and me. We were wrong, and I sincerely apologize. I wanted to thank you for calling me and Don on that last night."

Criticism of Cherry's comments poured in quickly as video clips of the segment circulated online. Bob McKenzie, a longtime hockey broadcaster on TSN, chimed in on the Cherry controversy Monday morning in a radio interview with TSN 690 in Montreal.

"When anybody starts any kind of admonishment or whatever with, 'You people,' you know that it's not going to a place that is good at all," McKenzie said.

"I find it absolutely abhorrent that Don Cherry would suggest that good Canadians wear poppies and those who have moved to Canada — obviously I didn't use the word 'immigrants' but that's what he was referring to — but that immigrants don't wear poppies when the reality is, and I think we all know this, there are lots of born and bred Canadians who don't wear poppies for whatever reason."

Hockey Night in Canada was a longtime CBC Saturday night staple, but the show and its games moved to Sportsnet when Rogers landed a $5.2-billion, 12-year national broadcast rights deal with the NHL that began in 2014.

-- Files from Canadian Press