Hockey Night Canada host Ron MacLean talks about Don Cherry during the first break on Saturday, November 16, 2019.
TORONTO – Ron MacLean approached Don Cherry's resignation with a long monologue during the first break from Saturday's "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcast, saying "Coach's Corner no longer exists."
MacLean opened the break segment – the first since Sportsnet fired Cherry on Monday – talking to himself on camera for almost five minutes.
“We are all suffering. I fell 100 times this week, if not more, ”said MacLean. “We are all disappointed. … I spent the whole week reflecting, listening to you (the viewer) – and listening to you. I reflected listening to my own heart and struggled hard to find the words. "
Sportsnet fired Cherry on Monday, two days after his comments aired at Coach's Corner last Saturday, which many considered critics of immigrants for not using Remembrance Day poppies.
Cherry had chosen new immigrants in Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario, where he lives, for failing to honor Canada's fallen veterans and soldiers.
Outrage at Cherry's words increased until his resignation was announced. Cherry later denied that he was highlighting visible minorities.
MacLean, long-time co-host of Coach's Corner with Cherry, apologized last Sunday for the comments and his lack of response. He reiterated this on Saturday night.
“I felt so bad and immediately apologized. And Don, you know Don, defiant, ”MacLean said. “There were steps that needed to be taken because of what Don had said. And he didn't want to take those steps. So he made his choice and I mine.
MacLean also talked at length about his intimate relationship with Cherry, but said he had to choose "principle over friendship".
"I thought a lot about falling for my sword too," MacLean said. "But then I thought if I did that, I figured what happened was somehow right, or I'm going to get along, or that I'm going to sit quietly or be a spectator again in a situation."
Saturday night's first break also featured a segment with MacLean interviewing Hayley Wickenheiser and Guy Carbonneau, two participants in this year's Hockey Hall of Fame class. The induction ceremony is Monday.
Wickenheiser also mentioned Cherry in that short three-minute segment, saying he appreciated that "he was always talking about women's hockey."
Sportsnet called Cherry's statements last Saturday "divisive" and said it "doesn't represent our values or what we stand for" by announcing its resignation on Monday.
Sportsnet also said earlier this week that they could take the long-term Coach & Corner segment in a different direction.
"We are taking the time to explore new formats in the first break," Sportsnet communications director Andrew Garas said in an e-mail to The Canadian Press late Friday afternoon.
HNIC was a staple of CBC on Saturday night, but the show and its games went to Sportsnet when Rogers struck a lucrative long-term broadcast rights deal with NHL that began in 2014. "Coach's Corner "and HNIC are still broadcast on CBC in a sub-license agreement with Rogers Media, owner of Sportsnet.
Cherry, originally from Kingston, Ontario, joined HNIC in 1980 as a playoff analyst and was so popular that he was retained as a color commentator. CBC later created "Coach's Corner" as a vehicle to show Cherry with MacLean, replacing Dave Hodge as his mate.
Known for his flamboyant suits and positive gesture, Cherry occasionally got interested in off-ice topics during his popular first-time program, and sometimes those opinions left him in hot water.
The Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council said earlier this week that it was so overwhelmed with complaints after last Saturday's segment that it exceeded the organization's technical processing capacity.