Hockey legend Bobby Orr appeared on Boston radio station WEEI on Thursday and didn’t mince words with his reaction to the recent firing of Don Cherry.
Orr, who was coached by Cherry with the Boston Bruins, said, “What they’ve done to him up there is disgraceful. It really is.”
Cherry was fired Monday by NHL rights holder Sportsnet after he singled out new immigrants for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers in a Coach’s Corner segment, which runs during the first intermission on Hockey Night in Canada.
“You people … 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 Saturday night.
“These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price.”
Orr also described Cherry as a “generous, caring guy” and said the 85-year-old is not a bigot or a racist.
Sportsnet issued a statement Sunday morning, calling Cherry’s remarks “divisive” and not representative of the network’s values.
Cherry has not apologized for his comments, but told CBC News that he blames his firing on poor word choice.
“I think it was a mistake,” he said. “But I think the big thing was that I should have said ‘everybody’ — that was the big, big thing.”
Later Thursday, Cherry sent out a tweet saying, “Just want to thank everybody for all the support and kind words. You’ll be hearing from me soon.”
WATCH | Don Cherry’s comments on Coach’s Corner:
Don Cherry sparked online backlash on Saturday night for his comments about immigrants not wanting to wear poppies ahead of Remembrance Day. 0:50
Players across the NHL reacted to Cherry’s remarks on Tuesday.
Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi wouldn’t say if he agreed with Sportsnet’s decision, but was quick to express admiration for a man he calls a family friend.
“I love Don Cherry. I always have, always will,” Domi said, on Tuesday after the team’s morning skate. “He’s a big reason why most of us play hockey. We grew up looking up to a guy like that, watching Coach’s Corner and stuff. It’s unfortunate what happened. It’s sad. He’s a big part of hockey.”
WATCH | Cherry faces major backlash after controversial comments:
CBC’s “The National” touches on the reactions of many Canadians following Don Cherry’s remarks on “Coach’s Corner”. 4:00
In the Toronto Maple Leafs’ locker room, meanwhile, the feeling was disappointment, both with Cherry’s words on Saturday and the rough finish for a nearly 40-year run on Hockey Night in Canada.
“I think he’s meant a lot to the game and provided a lot,” said Leafs captain John Tavares. “[It’s] obviously disappointing, what happened and the result. I think everyone would wish something like this didn’t happen and didn’t come to these types of circumstances.”
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