Don Cherry says Sportsnet “made it impossible” for him to address a controversy that eventually led to his firing last week.
In his first Grapevine podcast, released Tuesday, Cherry says he wasn’t willing to accept Sportsnet’s conditions to have him return after his Coach’s Corner segment on “Hockey Night in Canada” on Nov. 9.
“What happened was evidently I said something. Everybody knows what I said,” Cherry said. “I offered to explain. Not an apology, but I was going to smooth it over. They made conditions that made it impossible to do it. I just couldn’t do it. I guess I bit the bullet.”
The 27-minute podcast featured Cherry and his son, Tim. They said they plan to make it a weekly podcast.
The 85-year-old broadcaster made comments on Coach’s Corner that many felt were critical of immigrants for not wearing Remembrance Day poppies. Cherry used the phrase “you people,” during the segment but later denied that he was singling out minorities.
“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,” Cherry said on the segment. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”
Cherry said on the podcast he talked about many other subjects during the final Coach’s Corner.
“Nothing was mentioned about that. Nothing. Just two little words seemed to set everybody off,” Cherry said. “But, hey, that’s the way life is. I lived in a vicious world and I lasted 38 years. Happy to be there for 38 years. If I gotta go, I’m glad I’m going out on my shield.”
Tim Cherry also was critical of Sportsnet.
“It’s a different world out there with the cancel culture,” he said. “They had their eyes set on you, they had their guns set on you, I think, this year for sure. I think there was a lot of fake outrage.”
Don Cherry said he has received support from many people. He said truck drivers have given him the thumbs-up and firefighters have beeped their horns to show their support.
“Evidently I said something that upset Sportsnet and they canned me and I’m now unemployed except for doing this beautiful podcast,” he said.
Most of the podcast focused on Cherry’s memories of his coaching career and Maurice (Rocket) Richard.