‘I’m not going to change’: Don Cherry reacts to firing after controversial comments

CHEK

Don Cherry spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday after being fired as the co-host of Coach’s Corner, but he also admitted he wished he chose different words in a rant about poppies on Saturday night’s broadcast.

“I’m not apologizing, I’m not saying I was wrong, that’s the way it is,” Don Cherry told City News Tuesday.

Cherry, 85, had singled out new immigrants for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen 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. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

On Tuesday, Cherry said he wasn’t referring to immigrants but to everyone who doesn’t wear a poppy.

“I wish I would have said, everybody, but there’s nothing you can do about it I didn’t use it, you can’t go back and say I wish, I wish I had done this, I wish I had done that, I did it and I’m paying the price,” he said.

The controversy has pitted two groups of Canadians against each other: those who say good riddance and those pleading with Sportsnet to put Cherry back on the air.

Times Colonist sports writer Cleve Dheensaw says that division among Canadian hockey fans is the greatest fallout from Cherry’s comments.

“Hockey is a great equalizer in Canada in that almost everybody follows it no matter what colour you are or what your socioeconomic background is, everybody follows hockey either as their first sport or their second sport,” he said.

“You go to that one arena and you’re all there for that one cause, for that home team and that’s the beauty of sport, and to have that taken away and a slice put through it is I think the saddest part of this whole thing.”

Dheensaw says while Cherry leaves behind a legacy as a great entertainer, it’s his time to go.

“The game has passed him by right? Nothing he says about the game is of relevance anymore because it’s of an old school no one really adheres to anymore, and I think in the true hockey sense nobody really listened to him as far as what the game is about now,” he said.

As his interview with City News Tuesday morning continued, Cherry did soften a bit admitting he would apologize if given the chance.

“You know I would have, I think that Saturday I would have apologized if I had have hurt people, I think I would have, I said I would, but it wasn’t enough,” he said.

But the controversial broadcaster says he has no plans to change his ways.

“I’m not going to change because I only got a couple years left anyhow, I am what I am, as Popeye said ‘I ams what I ams and that’s all I ams’,” he said.

 

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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