Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry fired for ‘divisive remarks’ about immigrants

PHILADELPHIA – CBC sportscaster Don Cherry reports before Game Six of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on June 9, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

TORONTO – Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry’s remarks about what he believes are new immigrants not honoring the country’s fallen soldiers cost him his job.

Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley released a statement detailing why Cherry was fired.

“Sports brings people together – it unites us, not divides us. 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. 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 contributions to hockey and sports broadcasting in Canada.”

The 85-year-old Cherry, who has been criticized in the past for his outspoken conservative politics, seemed to single out new immigrants in Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario, where he lives, for not honoring Canada’s veterans and dead soldiers. He said he didn’t see immigrants wearing poppies to honor the country’s fallen on Remembrance Day, which will be observed on Monday.

“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 on Saturday night’s “Coach’s Corner” segment, broadcast on Sportsnet.

“These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

The NHL issued a statement critical of Cherry’s remarks Sunday.

“Hockey is at its best when it brings people together,” the league statement said. “The comments made last night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in.”

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie called Cherry’s remarks “despicable.”

“We’re proud of diverse cultural heritage and we’ll always stand up for it,” she said on Twitter. “New immigrants enrich our country for the better. We’re all Canadians and wear our poppies proudly.”

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