"Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday night's broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down," Rogers Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley wrote in a statement. "During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for."
Multiple sources reported that Cherry was dropped by Rogers days after he railed against immigrants and residents of downtown Toronto during his popular segment for not wearing poppies around Remembrance Day.
Statement from Sportsnet: pic.twitter.com/LRKrww0AQ1— Sportsnet PR (@SportsnetPR) November 11, 2019
Unconfirmed report that Don Cherry has been fired.— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) November 11, 2019
"You know, I was talking to a veteran, and I said, I'm not going to run the (annual Remembrance Day montage) anymore, because what's the sense? I live in Mississauga, nobody wears, very few people wear a poppy," Cherry said on the broadcast. "Downtown Toronto, forget it, downtown Toronto, nobody wears a poppy. And I'm not going to, and he says, wait a minute. How about running it for the people that buy them?
Don Cherry is no longer with Rogers/HNIC— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) November 11, 2019
"Now you go to the small cities and you know, the rows on rows, you people love — that come here, whatever it is — 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. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price. Anyhow, I'm going to run it for you great people and good Canadians that bought a poppy."
On the broadcaster's Hometown Hockey yesterday (November 10), Cherry's longtime co-host Ron MacLean addressed the comments, calling them "hurtful, discriminatory and flat-out wrong."
Don Cherry stirs controversy with rant on immigrants not wearing poppies. "You people love... that come here.. you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy..." #HNIC pic.twitter.com/r3WQ0ZalaJ— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) November 10, 2019
MacLean also apologized for failing to hold Cherry accountable during the segment, recalling, "I sat there, did not catch it, did not respond."
Today, the Canada Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) said it had been overwhelmed by complaints against Cherry following the broadcast.
In a statement at the top of their "Make a Complaint" page, the organization wrote, "The CBSC has received a large number of very similar complaints concerning Coach's Corner broadcast on CBC (Sportsnet) on November 9, 2019, exceeding the CBSC's technical processing capacities Accordingly, while the CBSC will be dealing with this broadcast under its normal process, it is not able to accept any further complaints."
Cherry has yet to apologize for his comments, telling the Toronto Sun today, "I said my piece and I will leave it there." In a second interview with the publication, Cherry added, "I know what I said and I meant it. Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honour our fallen soldiers."
UPDATE (11/12, 12:30 p.m. EST): On Monday night, Cherry told Toronto radio station Newstalk 1010, "I could've stayed on if I wanted to and knuckled under, and turned into a simp, but that's not my style. I'm unemployed now after 38 years. It's kind of strange to be unemployed, halfway through the season. And of all days Remembrance Day. It's sad."
Cherry has often used Coach's Corner to express his right-leaning, Canadian nationalist views, including climate change denial, misogyny and dismissing his critics as "left-wing pinkos."
The long-running segment is the subject of "Dear Coach's Corner" by Canadian punks Propagandhi. Written as a letter co-host MacLean, the song appears on the band's 2009 album Supporting Caste.
Of Cherry, guitarist/vocalist Chris Hannah told hockey blog SilverSevenSens, "He's just a useless mouthpiece of a system that stinks. The kind of personalities — and hockey is rife with them — that just cozy up to power and forget about marginalized people. I think Ron MacLean represents some of the best things about hockey and Don Cherry represents some of the worst things."
Cherry and MacLean had co-hosted Coach's Corner since 1986.