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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 11, 2020
The Maple Leafs will miss Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada.
They weren’t overly surprised, however, that Cherry was fired by Sportsnet on Monday after the 85-year-old made controversial remarks on Saturday night.
“He is a legend in the hockey world, he has been around hockey forever,” winger Zach Hyman said. “I grew up watching him on TV, and it was cool when he talked about me playing for the first time. That was awesome, but at the end of the day, you can’t say stuff like that.
“You have to be accepting of everyone, and hockey is for everyone. That is one of our slogans with the NHL, is hockey is for everyone, and that is really true. That sort of stuff is unacceptable.”
Cherry sparked outrage on Saturday, saying: “You people that come here… whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy.”
Later, Cherry refused to apologize.
“I have not spent a whole lot of time looking at it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said of the Cherry firing.
“I just know that when you’re in a situation like I am and you get to speak every day, you have to be mindful of how great the game is and what the game is all about and bringing people together. There is no question about that. It has to be tough for him and his family. In saying all that, there are certain things that are just right.”
Captain John Tavares called Cherry’s comments “disappointing” but noted Cherry’s contributions to the game.
“It was unbelievable as a kid — you watched him on TV and he would be around the minor hockey rinks,” Tavares said. “Just supporting the game that way and his commitment to all levels of it, the impact he made that way was tremendous. That’s what is very tough. What happened was disappointing, but there were so many good things I think he did over his time being involved in the game.
“It’s disappointing, I think, on many fronts, his comments. Certainly, the way his tenure ended.”
Added Jason Spezza, who played for the OHL’s Mississauga IceDogs when Cherry owned the team: “I’m not one to weigh in on it too much, but what makes Canada great is the equality we have and how diverse our culture is. You don’t like anything discriminatory that offends anyone, but Don is an icon. You don’t like to see things end that way.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019