Don Cherry's history of controversial comments
TORONTO -- Don Cherry’s angry Remembrance Day rant singling out immigrants on Saturday drew condemnation across Canada and resulted in his ouster from Sportsnet, but this is not the first time Cherry has made controversial comments.
Famously brash and often divisive statements have been part of Cherry’s brand throughout his nearly 40 years as a hockey commentator. He has rarely apologized.
On Saturday, Cherry spoke angrily about not seeing “you people” wearing poppies that honour fallen veterans.
“You love our way of life, you love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys pay for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price,” Cherry said, emphasizing the “you” with numerous finger jabs at the camera.
His comments drew so many complaints to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council that it was unable to process them all, while his co-host Ron MacLean and his network apologized for Cherry’s words.
The NHL also weighed in, calling his comments “offensive and contrary to the values” of the organization.
After he was fired, Cherry, 85, told a Toronto Sun columnist, “I have had my say.”
Here is a look at what else he has said in the past that has sparked headlines.
ON THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY
In 2007, Cherry and MacLean got into a heated debate over NHL left winger Chris Simon’s 30-game suspension. Simon is of Ojibwa descent from the Wiikwemkoong First Nation.
“Why wouldn’t some kids feel like they haven’t gotten a fair shake in life?” MacLean asked.
“Fair shake in life! Go out and get your own fair shake in life and work for it. Don’t give me that stuff,” Cherry replied.
The dispute then moved on to Ted Nolan, who is a member of the Ojibwa tribe.
“When Ted Nolan didn’t get the job, ‘It was racism, it was racism’ - it wasn’t racism!”
ON WOMEN AT HOCKEY GAMES
“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,” Cherry said in an undated segment.
‘LEFT WING PINKOS’
In 2010, Cherry appeared as a special guest for the inaugural meeting of Toronto new city council and shocked those present with his comments.
“I’m being ripped to shreds by the left-wing pinko newspapers out there — it’s unbelievable,” he said. “This is what you’ll be facing, Rob, with these left-wing pinkos — they scrape the bottom of the barrel.”
He predicted that Ford would be the greatest mayor Toronto had ever seen.
“As far as I’m concerned you can put that in your pipe you left-wing kooks.”
ON CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTALIST DAVID SUZUKI AND CLIMATE CHANGE
“David Suzuki, left wing kook, you’re in Vancouver. It’s warm out there. Why don’t you come to Toronto, we’ve been freezing for two months … what is this, warming trends? We’re all dying of cold, and he’s talking warming trend. What?” Cherry said in an undated Coach’s Corner segment posted on YouTube.
Cherry has long been a climate change skeptic. In a segment last year, Cherry asked MacLean, “I’d like to ask you with your left-wing pinko friends, what about the warming trend?”
When MacLean appeared reluctant to wade into the issue, Cherry said, ““I’m just asking you, the cuckaloos are always saying there are warming trends — we’re freezing to death.”
CALLING FORMER PLAYERS 'PUKES' AND ‘TURNCOATS’
Cherry, the creator of the Rock’em Sock’em Hockey videos, criticized several former NHL enforcers in 2011 for speaking out against fighting in hockey.
“The ones I’m really disgusted with …. The bunch of pukes that fought before -- Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan, Jim Thomson — the reason, 'Oh, the reason that they're drinking, drugs and alcoholics is because they fight.' You turncoats, you hypocrites,” said Cherry.
“There's one thing I'm not, it's a hypocrite. You guys, you were fighters, and now you don't want guys to make the same living you did."
The three players released a statement calling his comments “inappropriate”, “baseless and slanderous,” adding that they were considering “further recourse,” which prompted a rare apology from Cherry a week later.
ON EUROPEAN PLAYERS
Cherry has also had a history of being critical of European players, including complaining about Alexander Ovechkin’s goal celebrations in 2009 and Russian hockey in general.
“Look at this, this is what we want our hockey players to act? Now watch Ovechkin, does this not remind you of it? Does he not remind you of a soccer player?... This is goofy stuff,” he said, following a montage of soccer players celebrating their goals and a clip of Ovechkin.
“Listen you kid, don’t get caught in the Canadian syndrome, where if it’s Canadian it’s got to be bad. We’re the best, I’ve been telling you’re the best.”
Cherry has also criticized players from Russia. In an undated clip, he said, “they’re nothing. They’re nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G.”