'He's not a wordsmith': Don Cherry impersonator defends broadcaster after firing
A man who makes a living impersonating Don Cherry is defending the longtime hockey broadcaster who’s out of a job after a rant that was widely criticized for scolding immigrants who don’t wear poppies.
In an interview with CTV Calgary, “That ‘Don Cherry’ Guy” Clark Robertson said the former “Hockey Night in Canada” co-host “could have said it better” and “is never going to win awards for grammar.”
“He’s not a wordsmith,” said Robertson. “Deep down -- even on surface I don’t think he is (a racist). He just words things wrong. He’s a blue-collar Joe, working dude who would swing a hammer if he wasn’t doing what he’s doing. He says what a lot of people think but he’s the only one who’s got the balls to say it half the time.”
The 85-year-old Cherry was fired Monday, nearly four decades after he began working for “Hockey Night in Canada,” as part of the fallout from Saturday night’s broadcast. During his “Coach’s Corner” segment, Cherry claimed that immigrants do not wear poppies or support veterans.
"You people … 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," he said. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."
Robertson echoed Cherry’s statements to CTV on Monday, saying “people need to assimilate and become one.”
“If you’re going to be in our country, no matter who you are -- ‘those people’ -- any person,” he said. “Come join us, enjoy our beautiful country, our natural resources and let’s be one.”
Though Cherry’s comments were widely criticized online, there was also a strong contingent of supporters calling for his rehiring, and others suggesting a boycott of Rogers Media, which owns “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcaster Sportsnet. That support is why Robertson feels there will still be a market for his impersonations.
“As long as I’m alive on this Earth, people are going to know who Don Cherry is,” he said. “Some are going to hate him, some are going to love him. The ones that love him are still going to hire me to come and do a show.”
If he receives some backlash as a Cherry impersonator now, it’s nothing new, said Robertson.
“Before this, people would come up to me in the streets and tell me blatantly ‘I hate you, I hate everything about you, I hate your suits.’ I don’t think it will be any different,” he said.
Robertson believes Cherry has been wrongfully reprimanded for his comments. If Robertson had it his way, Cherry would be named to the Order of Canada for his work in sports and charity. “He’s a great Canadian,” said Robertson. “He really is.”