NHL commissioner Gary Bettman remains quiet on Don Cherry firing

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says Sportsnet broadcaster Ron MacLean “spoke from the heart” during his monologue on Hockey Night in Canada over the weekend.

MacLean opened the first intermission segment on Saturday night — the first since Cherry was fired last week — by speaking alone on camera for nearly five minutes.

WATCH: Ron MacLean’s emotional monologue on end of Coach’s Corner

Ron MacLean spoke during the 1st intermission of the Leafs/ Penguins game to address the Don Cherry situation and what he called the “end of an era.” 4:44

Bettman, a panellist at Monday’s PrimeTime sports management conference in downtown Toronto, says MacLean “obviously made his feelings clear.”

Bettman declined to weigh in on Cherry’s departure.

“I believe the CBC has had a number of statements, we’ve had a number of statements, Don has spoken and I’m not going to start another news cycle,” he said.

HNIC was a longtime CBC Saturday night staple, but the show and its games moved to Sportsnet in 2014 after Rogers agreed to a lucrative, long-term rights deal with the NHL.

Coach’s Corner and HNIC are still broadcast on CBC in a sub-licensing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet.

Don Cherry speaks to CBC News after being fired for comments he made 3:05

‘Principle over friendship’

Cherry used the phrase, “You people,” during the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 9 but later denied that he was singling out visible minorities.

MacLean, who apologized the day after, talked at length about his close relationship with Cherry during his monologue but said he had to choose “principle over friendship,” adding “Coach’s Corner is no more.”

Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley was originally scheduled to be a panellist on a sports media roundtable at the conference Monday morning.

He was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, a spokesperson said.

Cherry’s firing and its ramifications have dominated the Canadian news cycle since his departure was announced Nov. 11.

The 85-year-old native of Kingston, Ont., joined HNIC in 1980 as a playoff analyst and was so popular that he was kept on as a colour commentator. CBC later created Coach’s Corner as a vehicle to showcase Cherry, with MacLean eventually replacing Dave Hodge as co-host.

Sportsnet is exploring new format options for the first intermission, a spokesperson said.

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