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Being a Canadian Icon Was No Longer Enough to Keep Don Cherry

Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Unless you've been living under a rock the last few days, or somehow we're the only source of news you have, then you know that Don Cherry was relieved of his duties by Sportsnet and will no longer hold his position on Coaches Corner. It was a move that came as a bit of a shock to some but one that seemingly had to be made.

Like many others in this country I grew up watching Don Cherry preach the same things every Saturday night. When I was younger, he felt like a God to me. There was this figure on my television once a week that had the ability to make an entire nation stop and listen to the things he had to say. Whether you agreed with him or not, you stopped what you were doing and started listening to Don Cherry.

As I started to get older however, things started to change for both Don and Coaches Corner. It was very evident that the brash, 70's style attitude that Don brought every Saturday night was slowly going out of style. Like Ron Maclean, I found myself tuning out of most of what Don had to say. For me personally, I was a little too young to catch some of the offside things he was saying about others, I just knew that his hockey takes were outdated and flat out wrong.

Then I hit an age where I started to really notice the things that Don was saying, seemingly around the same time that Don hit an age that he didn't understand the things he was saying.

The controversial statements became more and more frequent, the racism became more and more blatant, and his hockey takes weren't even good enough to salvage a good show (Tyler Myers should win the Norris? Yep, you've lost it old man).

The statements he made on Saturday are honestly nothing new for him. If you've been watching Hockey Night in Canada the last few years you would've noticed how much he hates Europeans, and some of the absolutely ridiculous things he said about guys like Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin and so many others. It's been very evident that he wanted to divide and separate the league into Canadians and those who are "lesser than us."

He even drifted over the line a few times when speaking about women and the sport. He's been quoted saying that “When you come to the games, keep your eyes on the puck. I’m telling ya, I’ve seen some awful smacks, and it’s always a woman yapping away there. Look at the game” (on women in the stands) and that " the men’s locker-room is no place for a woman" (when speaking about women reporters).

His most recent comments were a little different than previous comments made by him however. In this rant, Cherry wasn't going after anything to do with the sport. This time, Cherry took aim at dividing Canada into immigrants and non-immigrants as opposed to uniting us all. It's an issue that, whether you like it or not, splits most Canadians right down the middle and causes extreme reactions on both sides.

They were comments that some people have tried to defend, some people believe weren't that bad, and some people have brought out the torches and pitchforks fo. Regardless of where you stand, you need to be able to see why making political statements on a program meant strictly for sports is a poor decision. To make matters worse, Cherry has backed those statements while everyone else involved has been apologetic about them.

Now, I'm not entirely convinced that the comments themselves or his lack of empathy and inability to walk back what he said is the reason he was fired. In the summer it was reported that Sportsnet wasn't going to extend the contract of Don Cherry and whether they confirmed it or not it was evident that something was wrong in that relationship. From a strictly business standpoint it's easy to see why they were having second thoughts about Cherry representing their brand.

After seeing a now 85 year old man go on air for over three decades without changing his views on hockey, or managing to adapt to the Canadian way of life in 2019, Sportsnet put Cherry on very thin ice entering this season. Being the unapologetic man that he is, Don failed to adapt, made the statements that he did, and left Sportsnet with no choice.

If you are running a platform, and a person of any stature is using your platform to continuously push his own agenda (despite it clashing with yours), you are evntually going to let that person go. Cherry's situation is no different. He continued to say offside things that didn't align with the way the people at Sportsnet wanted to display themselves, and his value was no longer higher than the grief they had to endure.

It's a move that some Canadians are fighting strongly against given the "legend" that is Don Cherry. But despite you "cancelling" Sportsnet, or #standingwithDonCherry, they made the correct business decision based on their values and have set themselves up to bring in some fresh faces to enrich the lives of ALL Canadians.

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