Don Cherry Fired

Canada and hockey fans from coast to coast and the ships at sea:  Don Cherry was fired this week. A Canadian icon, not just an opinionated, former hockey coach was terminated because he expressed an opinion on television.

Those of you who know Don Cherry know that he is passionate about two things:  his Canada and ice hockey.

He was never afraid to wear his passion on the sleeves of his gaudy sport coats or his high-collared shirts. Don was so protective of his Canadian hockey that he railed over and over again when his Toronto Maple Leafs introduced a Swede to their team. He often commented on how hockey would be diminished and softened if his beloved Canada and his beloved NHL allowed Europeans or Russians to play.

It was his opinion. This opinion generated controversy. Controversy created conversation.

And eventually the introduction of Europeans, Russians, and Americans proved to make his beloved hockey even more entertaining and more visually exciting to watch. 

I met Mr. Cherry several times during my years in amateur and minor league professional hockey, and he was quick to acknowledge that his opinion of Europeans and Russians was maybe “overstated” or in general, just plain wrong.

This past week he promoted the idea of purchasing poppies to honor the fallen Canadian soldiers who protected and defended Canadian freedom.  Poppy Day is a big event in Canada, and all Mr. Cherry was trying to do was make sure that those Canadians who have enjoyed life in Canada and may have become Canadian citizens understand, recognize, and appreciate the sacrifices of those who died to keep Canada safe.

His opinion was considered to be “discriminatory,” and therefore he was terminated. It’s a shame when someone can’t have an opinion that might be “discriminatory” and then wait for the other side to counter with facts and information that overcome or diminish this opinion.

Instead of firing Mr. Cherry, Canada should have shown where he was in error, just as the European and Russian hockey players proved him wrong. This same politically correct garbage is pervasive here in the United States, and it needs to end. If someone says something that you don’t agree with, ignore them or prove that their position is incorrect. But simply throwing them under the bus because you disagree with them is a travesty.

Shame on Ron McLean for not standing up for his colleague of three decades. Shame on the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey organization for not defending an icon who lived and breathed Maple Leaf hockey. Shame on CBC and Canadian television for not allowing someone to express an opinion. I doubt whether anyone was seriously injured or suffered terminal illness or had to cower in the corner after hearing Mr. Cherry’s statement. Shame on you, Canada. I thought you were better than this.

Maybe Canadian television and the NHL need to create safe spaces for their fans, rather than allowing the free exchange of ideas.

Ron Cocquyt

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