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Hockey commentator Don Cherry fired for rant about immigrants

Rogers Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley said in a statement Monday that after discussions with Cherry “it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down.”

Rogers Sportsnet has fired hockey announcer Don Cherry.
Rogers Sportsnet has fired hockey announcer Don Cherry.
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

TORONTO — Don Cherry, Canada’s most polarizing, flamboyant and opinionated hockey commentator, was fired Monday for calling immigrants “you people” in a television rant in which he said new immigrants are not honoring the country’s fallen soldiers.

Rogers Sportsnet President Bart Yabsley announced the decision in a statement following discussions with the 85-year-old broadcaster.

“It has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down,” Yabsley said. “During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.”

Cherry derided immigrants by saying, “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.”

The tradition of wearing poppies in Canada honors the country’s war dead on Remembrance Day, which was observed Monday.

Cherry has provided commentary following the first intermission of “Hockey Night in Canada” for three decades.

“Don is synonymous with hockey and has played an integral role in growing the game,” Yabsley said “We would like to thank Don for his contributions to hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada.”

Cherry has not apologized for his remarks. Longtime segment co-host Ron MacLean apologized Sunday evening. MacLean didn’t object to Cherry’s remarks Saturday and gave Cherry a thumbs-up during the broadcast.

The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council said it was so overloaded with complaints about the segment that it exceeded the organization’s technical processing capacity.

Before beginning his life in front of the camera in 1980, Cherry was a rugged defenseman and career minor leaguer. He played all of one game in the NHL — a playoff game with the Boston Bruins, with whom he won coach of the year honors in 1976.