Mixed reaction to Ron MacLean’s address on Don Cherry firing
TORONTO -- Ron MacLean addressed Sportsnet’s firing of Don Cherry during the first intermission of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins game Saturday night.
The comments come after Sportsnet fired Cherry on Monday for his on-air “you people” rant on Saturday, Nov. 9, which many believe took aim at immigrants for not wearing Remembrance Day poppies.
"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, in the unscripted rant. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price."
Speaking directly to viewers, MacLean said that as a result of Cherry’s firing, Hockey Night in Canada’s Coach’s Corner, which he’s hosted with Cherry for 34 years, was “no more.”
“We are all hurting. I have collapsed a hundred times this week, if not more. We are all disappointed. Bobby Orr is disappointed in me. Bobby, I'm disappointed in me,” the 59-year-old said while addressing the controversy for nearly five minutes.
MacLean then went on to address the decision to part ways with Cherry, effectively putting an end to their nearly four-decade partnership.
“Don's my guy, I'm in a foxhole with Don and I've decided to go one way and he another, and you say 'ok, how can you choose principle over friendship?' But I had to. I thought a lot about falling on my own sword too."
In a sit-down interview with CTV News Toronto Michelle Dubé on Tuesday, Cherry said he was sorry if his comments had hurt anyone, but believes the “silent majority” backs him.
“There are a lot of people who are with me, but they are very silent.”
Reaction to MacLean’s address was swift with one person tweeting “[MacLean] should have kept his mouth shut,” and another saying, “I lost all respect for you last night.”
There were, however, those who supported MacLean. One viewer tweeting, “his address was very stoic, sincere, and fair,” another tweet reads in part, “No jokes to hide behind. Just truth in the glaring lights. Respect, sir.”
At Chesswood Arena Sunday, CTV News Toronto caught up with a couple of former NHL'ers for their reaction.
"I have such great respect for him [Ron] and his intelligence, and the way that he spoke last night,” Former Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Gary Roberts said.
“What can you say? At some point in everybody's life, you make decisions that are close to your heart, and Ron felt like he made that decision."
Former Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Darcy Tucker was also in attendance. He reflected on what hockey had given him when asked about Hockey Night in Canada.
"I really believe hockey one of the best sports in the world to be a part of, and it teaches you a lot more than just hockey. It teaches you a lot about life, and that's what I'm trying to teach these young guys."