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On Hockey Night in Canada's Nov. 9 Coach's Corner segment, Don Cherry with Ron MacLean.CBC/CBC

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Readers respond: Don Cherry, fired by Sportsnet, hated any changes to hockey – and his imaginary Canada and Sportsnet fires Don Cherry over remarks on immigrants, Remembrance Day poppies

On free speech

Some people believe Sportsnet’s actions against Don Cherry were an attack on free speech. Let’s be clear, this seems more like a business decision.

Sportsnet’s viewers and sponsors include a huge number of people who were offended by Mr. Cherry’s words, myself included. The decision to fire him relates to him possibly affecting business. That, and it was also the right thing to do.

Further, Mr. Cherry was paid to provide hockey commentary, not political or social opinions. Sportsnet is under no obligation to provide him with a platform to share his controversial opinions. To me, this wasn’t about infringing on anyone’s right to free speech. It was just business.

Randy Tait Toronto

Ironically, the critics of Don Cherry’s remarks seem to prove his point. Veterans fought for our freedom to speak our minds, which is the very thing Mr. Cherry’s detractors seem to be trying to suppress.

Paul Pepperall Penetanguishene, Ont.

I am a big fan of columnist Cathal Kelly’s insightful writing, but I take exception to the characterization of times changing. Many people have long believed that Don Cherry’s rants were often divisive, hateful and wrong; with his dismissal from his post at Sportsnet, it would appear that the rest of the country – or perhaps the powerful – have caught up.

Jennifer Cruickshank Toronto

I fully support Sportsnet’s decision to fire Don Cherry. Mr. Cherry’s comments on Saturday felt unacceptable and unworthy of a national broadcaster. He has done a lot of good work promoting Canada’s military and police forces; he could have simply stated that he believes too few people wear poppies today and that is being disrespectful to Canada’s veterans.

It felt ironic and sad that Mr. Cherry used Remembrance Day, when the focus should have been on veterans, to make himself the centre of attention by singling out immigrants to make disparaging remarks.

Jeff Buckstein Kanata, Ont.

‘My skin may be brown, but I am every bit as Canadian as Don Cherry.’ Plus other thoughts on Remembrance Day

What Don Cherry forgets about Remembrance Day, hockey and what unites Canada

How far is too far for Don Cherry?

Canadian television presenters Don Cherry, left, and Ron Maclean are seen during a live broadcast in the first intermission of NHL preseason action at the Q Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Sept. 21, 2015.Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press

On charisma

To me, there’s no doubt that Don Cherry is a flawed loudmouth who says some stupid things. But among other things, Grapes is the Archie Bunker of Canada. A lovable goofball. So Hockey Night in Canada becomes pretty boring now.

Don’t forget all those heartfelt shout-outs to vets, families, soldiers, policemen and women, sick children, old-timers, young players and up-and-coming draft picks. Who can possibly replace those?

His rants about fighting and “toughness,” uncomfortable as they were, did seem to provide perspective on the codes of our national game.

There are tons of hockey talking heads. Some very good, but Mr. Cherry is unique. He dresses up in costume because he knows it’s entertainment, which is significant when you note that many of the other guys wear expensive, conservative and ill-fitting paid-for suits.

His creativity and originality is truly amazing. He is a larger than life character. But yes, he should have apologized.

Nigel Smith Toronto

On hockey

Don Cherry should never have been given a national platform to voice his controversial views in the first place. On that basis alone, I am glad he was finally fired. From the point of view of a proud Canadian hockey lover, I am also glad that he will be less able to promote his retrograde views on the game.

Speed and skill are superior to stupid toughness in winning hockey games. He never grasped that, and I blame him for holding back hockey development in Canada.

Ed Janicki Victoria

On responsibility

When I heard of Don Cherry’s comments, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. What did surprise me was that his employers had finally heard the outrage to comments he has been paid to deliver for years. I think we have Twitter to thank for enabling this business decision.

But the problem with demonizing Mr. Cherry is that he is not the problem – he is the symptom. It’s way too easy for the media and elites who employed him to now claim he did not reflect its values. Piling on Mr. Cherry seems to be the easy way out because it perpetuates the fiction that, we, as his audience, are not complicit in enabling, if not rewarding, his controversial rants.

Furthermore Mr. Cherry’s views are likely held by many Canadians, or he wouldn’t have been given a bully pulpit for so long. The root problem is the pervasive ignorance, complacency and entitlement that he seemed to embody. We are, after all, a country of immigrants. Let the outrage lead us to do something about it in our schools and institutions. Action speaks louder than words.

Bill Barrable Vancouver

Like each of us, Don Cherry has his strengths and his weaknesses. He’s a wise and experienced hockey evaluator, and his delivery is truly unique and entertaining. He loves and respects his country, always standing up for the Canadian Forces, veterans, the sick and the oppressed. To me, he’s also racist.

Many of his generation probably do not see it that way – they likely see it as being nationalistic. I believe my generation knows better. It’s also not one’s mistakes we’re judged by, but how we respond to them. Had Mr. Cherry responded with a heartfelt apology, as Ron MacLean did, he’d maybe still be on the air.

Bobby Thompson Vancouver

Don Cherry poses for a photo in Toronto on March 10, 2014.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

On history

There’s no question that it was time for Don Cherry to sign off. His ill-considered, hateful comments on the weekend seemed clear proof that he was well past his best-before date. But hold on a moment. I find myself wondering: Of those who applauded Mr. Cherry’s firing, did they do so because they believed he had disparaged the role that veterans of all races, colours and religions have played in Canada’s efforts in two world wars, the Korean conflict and in peacekeeping missions?

Unless I misheard him, Mr. Cherry was ranting about his perception that too many new Canadians, for whatever reasons, choose not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy. Mr. Cherry said nothing about the contributions that new Canadians or their ancestors have made in the service of Canada’s military over the years.

From my vantage point up here in the cheap seats – which, by the way, are within a block of the house in which he grew up – ol’ Grapes had always managed to sidestep the trap door. This time, at 85, he wasn’t as spry or as lucky. When he slipped on Saturday night, there was no shortage of onlookers ready to gleefully give him the nudge that finally did him in. Not that he seems to understand that, or even to care.

Ken Cuthbertson Kingston

In 1874, my emigrating great-great grandparents had offers of land in both Canada and the United States, and Canada won out by promising that they and their descendants would be forever exempt from military service. Like many Canadians today, their historical experiences made them wary of even small doses of militarism. Most Canadians find it abhorrent that our military allies have sought to gain “milk and honey” on the backs of “guys [who] paid the biggest price” in Iraq and elsewhere. I believe Don Cherry’s in the wrong country.

Patrick Brown Toronto

I was not amused by Don Cherry’s “you people” rant. My Greek family of four came to Canada from South Africa in 1988. We found Canadians to be genuinely friendly and welcoming.

I don’t question Mr. Cherry’s patriotism and support for veterans, though I’d like to know why he would question mine. I don’t need to wear a poppy to display my patriotism, though I do so each year to show my respect; not only for the Canadian veterans and their sacrifices, but also to honour my own family’s war contributions.

My father and two maternal uncles were too young to fight in the Second World War, but did fight in the consequent four-year Greek Civil War against the communist uprising. And my wife’s father and five uncles volunteered and fought in the battle of el-Alamein against Rommel’s army.

I believe Mr. Cherry used the wrong pronoun. We came to Canada and became members of “we people,” not “you people.”

Nick Haitas Kanata, Ont.

For many years now, Don Cherry has attempted to shame Canadians into wearing poppies. On Coach’s Corner, on an annual basis, he has replayed a video of himself at a memorial for fallen Canadian soldiers in Europe. “The least you can do is buy a poppy,” he would say, year after year.

I choose to honour my family members from earlier generations who fought in war, and in some cases died in war, by doing the following: I vote. Their sacrifices have allowed me to live in one of the best democracies on Earth, and therefore I vote: even when it’s inconvenient, or time consuming, or when I think my vote won’t count.

I vote because to not do so would be to disrespect those who have served in the Canadian Forces, past and present. I don’t get too hung up on symbols, which is true of Mr. Cherry in most cases, because he once stated on Coach’s Corner that he refused to wear ribbons for all kinds of causes because there are just too many of them.

Mr. Cherry had an unbelievable platform for decades. Instead of getting all worked up about the symbolism of the poppy, imagine if he had instead said, “Hey, only about 65 per cent of you people out there are voting in our elections and that isn’t good enough. Show some respect for those who fought and died for your freedoms. Vote!” Of course, he did not. What a shame.

Trevor Amon Victoria

Don Cherry looks on during the 2011 CHL top prospects skills competition on Jan. 18, 2011.MARK BLINCH/Reuters

On new Canadians

I hold no truck with Don Cherry and do not disagree with his firing for implying that new Canadians were not sporting poppies to commemorate Remembrance Day. Mr. Cherry’s Saturday night rant seemed to be based more on emotion than fact.

The corollary of this unfortunate situation, however, is the government of Quebec barring provincial civil servants from proudly wearing their religious garb, with many of those affected being new Canadians. We would rather have heard Mr. Cherry lament this abhorrent mandate.

James McCarney Oakville, Ont.

Last Friday, my community mosque was filled with more than 100 “you people” who participated in a Remembrance Day ceremony. Similar ceremonies were held in Ahmadiyya mosques across Canada. So to hear Don Cherry’s divisive comments the very next night was very disappointing. If he genuinely cared about supporting the veterans, he would have simply said that more people should wear the poppy. But unfortunately, he didn’t do that. Perhaps Mr. Cherry doesn’t realize that “you people” have also served and sacrificed their lives for Canada.

With that said, I would also like to echo an opinion of many: No one should be forced to wear a poppy. We must realize that everyone has a different experience with the military. Not wearing a poppy shouldn’t make you any less of a Canadian.

Fasih Malik Calgary

Give your head a shake: Don Cherry made a faux pas.

He is a strong supporter of veterans, therefore the poppy is a sensitive issue for him. There are many people other than immigrants who don’t wear poppies, and it is sad. We seem to have become so sensitive about offending different religions that common sense has gone down the drain.

I personally think he was referring to all groups who do not wear a poppy, which includes many nonimmigrants.

Susan Bird West Vancouver, B.C.

I can’t believe Don Cherry actually used “you people” when referring to immigrants whom he claims aren’t buying poppies. Anybody who is Jewish and grew up in Toronto post-Second World War would remember this term well.

“You people are too loud.” "You people are too pushy.” “You people are all smart.” Yes, long before Don Cherry’s comments, there was good old-fashioned anti-Semitism using the same slur. I guess some things just never go out of style.

Alf Kwinter Toronto

How about the next time a racialized television personality calls anyone “white-privileged” or a “settler,” we all inundate the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council with complaints and get the utterer of the divisive comment fired. Who’s with me? Nobody? Good.

So how about, in general, when someone paid to be controversial is controversial, we simply change the channel, or shrug it off, or listen to Taylor Swift’s You Need to Calm Down, or, at most, rebut the offending remarks. We really don’t need to go further and destroy the business or employment of everyone that offends us.

Rudy Buller Toronto

On replacements

Sportsnet has a golden opportunity to do something great with their hockey broadcasts. I say scrap the concept of Coach’s Corner and do something bold and creative. I would love to see Canadian author, comedian, creator of Goon and hockey fan: Jay Baruchel.

Bill Schwartz Brooklin, Ont.

My choice for Don Cherry’s replacement? Since Coach’s Corner had become less about game analysis and more about the hosts, I vote for Rick Mercer. Iconic Canadian. Irreverence without prejudice. I’d watch.

Chris Marriott Chelsea, Que.

Cast member Jay Baruchel attends the premiere of 'How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World' at the Regency Village Theatre on Feb. 9, 2019, in Los Angeles.Phil Mccarten/The Associated Press

On zingers

Too bad Don Cherry didn’t stick to talking about hockey; something he knew about.

Garth Evans Vancouver

Had Don Cherry worn blackface a few too many times over the past 20 years, then apologized when finally called out and told Canadians he’s learned from the experience – well, he could have been the prime minister. Twice, no less.

Clay Atcheson North Vancouver, B.C.

One of the pictures circulated of Don Cherry shows him in one of his outrageous jackets, in this case a large-sized blue-and-white check. In the yachting world, that is code flag N, which means (race) cancelled or abandoned – in this case, clearly both.

Martin Wale Dorval, Que.

I think Don Cherry might have been talking about me. The only way I have been able to keep a poppy for longer than an hour or two is by not wearing it.

Ivan McMorris Winnipeg

Don Cherry and Donald Trump both love to attach themselves to veterans and soldiers. When and where did either one serve?

Martin Pick Cavan, Ont.

This news must be absolutely devastating to Don Cherry’s tailor.

Ed Schooley Waterloo, Ont.

Might it be said that Don Cherry finally tripped on his own shtick?

Jim Young Burlington, Ont.

Lucky for Don Cherry, he won’t be out of a job for long. Next spring, the Conservative Party will be looking for a new leader, and if he runs, certainly Peter MacKay won’t be able to say “it was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net."

Steve Chitovas Sarnia, Ont.

Cherry photographed at his daughter's home in Mississauga on Sept. 25, 2010.Glenn Lowson/The Globe and Mail

On moving on

Considering what’s going on in the world these days, how lucky we are to live in a country where the firing of a hockey commentator is the lead story of the day.

Jonathan Craven North Saanich, B.C.

Let’s leave Don Cherry alone in his BarcaLounger shouting at the TV and grumbling about “you people.” No more stories about him please – he should not be worthy of our energy.

Trish Crowe Kingston

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