NHL players, politicians weigh in on end of Cherry’s run on HNIC

NHL players, politicians weigh in on end of Cherry’s run on HNIC

Max Domi wasn’t about to offer his opinion on Sportsnet’s decision to cut ties with Don Cherry, but the Montreal Canadiens forward was quick to express his admiration for a man he calls a family friend.

“I love Don Cherry. I always have, always will,” Domi said on Tuesday after the Habs’ 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. That’s all really we can say unfortunately nowadays.”

Sportsnet sacked Cherry on Monday, two days after he was critical of immigrants for not wearing poppies on his “Coach’s Corner” segment on “Hockey Night in Canada.” Since then, Cherry has been a hot topic at arenas across the NHL.

Domi got to know Cherry when his dad, Tie, played in the NHL. Cherry’s grandson, Del, also was a close friend of Max’s as a kid.

Cherry regularly has voiced his support for tough players like Tie Domi, who is third on the NHL’s career penalty minutes list.

“He was a family friend of mine and someone I looked up to,” Max Domi said. “I will always look up to him. He’s an unbelievable guy and what he’s done for this sport is remarkable.”

Domi declined comment when asked if he agreed with Sportsnet’s decision, instead choosing to focus on Cherry’s legacy when talking to reporters.

“Like I said, it’s unfortunate how everything unfolded,” Domi said. “But 85 years old, that’s a heck of a career. He’ll always be remembered as one of the faces of sport.”

Fellow Canadiens forward Nick Cousins acknowledged the news about Cherry caught him off guard.

“I was pretty surprised they fired him,” Cousins said. “But obviously you make those comments, it kind of puts them in a tough spot.

“It’s just going to be completely different. You grow up watching ‘Hockey Night in Canada,’ especially being from Canada, every Saturday night he’s on there and he’s always got a pretty strong opinion on things. Sometimes he crosses the line. Obviously, he crossed the line there a couple nights ago. That’s what happens nowadays. So it’s tough to see.”

Quebec Premier Francois Legault was far more critical of Cherry than the two Habs forwards.

“He’s a bit of a clown,” the premier said in an interview on Quebec City radio station FM 98.9.

“Effectively, I’ve often seen him dumping on francophones. Now he’s doing it against immigrants. I think at some point he’ll say anything. I think he shocks people for the sake of being shocking, for the pleasure of shocking.

“It was about time someone put him in his place, so I think it’s a very good decision from Sportsnet,” Legault added. “I’ll be able to start watching hockey again in English.”

In the Toronto Maple Leafs’ locker room, meanwhile, the feeling was one of disappointment — both with Cherry’s words on Saturday and the rough finish for a nearly 40-year run on HNIC.

“Disappointing on many fronts — obviously the comments, but certainly the way his tenure ended,” Leafs captain John Tavares said. “I think he’s meant a lot to the game and provided a lot. 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.”

Leafs centre Jason Spezza has a unique perspective after being drafted first overall by the Ontario Hockey League’s Mississauga IceDogs when Cherry was a part-owner in 1999. With the team at the bottom of the standings, Spezza requested a trade and was eventually dealt to Windsor.

Spezza said he was a big fan of “Coach’s Corner” growing up.

“It’s sad. I’m not one to weigh into it too much, but what makes Canada great is the equality we have and how diverse our culture is,” Spezza said. “You don’t like anything discriminatory that offends anyone, but Don is an icon. You don’t like to see things end that way. He was someone that was part of hockey for a long time.”

Leafs winger Zach Hyman had similar thoughts.

“He’s a legend in the hockey world,” Hyman said. “He’s been around hockey forever. I grew up watching him on TV. 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 today. You’ve got to be accepting of everyone. ‘Hockey Is For Everyone’ is one of our slogans with the NHL, and that’s really true. That sort of stuff is unacceptable.”

The story also was a talking point in Boston, where Cherry used to coach the Bruins. Current Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was critical of Cherry’s comments.

“Hockey versus politics, I try to stay away from that. I don’t agree with what he said,” Cassidy said. “I love the fact he was a great coach for the Bruins years ago, love the way the team played. But that’s just not the way I think.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP have charged a Sylvan Lake man for allegedly defrauding five people of more than $100,000.
Advocate file photo
20-year-old woman killed in collision: Blackfalds RCMP

A 20-year-old woman was killed in a collision on Saturday, says Blackfalds… Continue reading

Patrick Malkin, co-owner of The Granary Kitchen, says he wants the provincial government to lift COVID-19 restrictions that shutdown in-person dining. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer restaurant owner ‘frustrated’ in-person dining restrictions are still in place

Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the restrictions won’t yet be eased this past Thursday

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

A firetruck sits in front of a home on Harvey Close in Red Deer Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters respond to Red Deer fire

Red Deer firefighters responded to a blaze in the north part of… Continue reading

(Courtesy photo)
Red Deer rental prices drop slightly

Renting an apartment in Red Deer became slightly cheaper last month. Rentals.ca… Continue reading

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site… Continue reading

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) headquarters Connaught Building is pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Taxpayers’ watchdog sees complaints spike, raising worries about pandemic tax season

OTTAWA — Canada’s taxpayers’ ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep… Continue reading

Wet'suwet'en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

Tensions had reached a boiling point over a natural gas pipeline in… Continue reading

An Uber driver's vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

VANCOUVER — Several Metro Vancouver taxi companies have lost a court bid… Continue reading

Lights on an internet switch illuminate a network cable in an office in Ottawa, Thursday, February 10, 2011. A Federal Court is ordering Canada's internet service providers to block websites for a company that's offering pirated television streaming online. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Deeply disturbing:’ Nunavut internet still slower, more costly than rest of country

IQALUIT, Nunavut — In Nunavut, it’s not unusual for the internet to… Continue reading

RCMP say missing teen Hope Tivendale has been found. (File photo by Advocate staff)
No foul play suspected after burned body of homeless person found in North Vancouver

VANCOUVER — A burned body, believed to be of a homeless person,… Continue reading

The central zone experienced a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases Thursday, rising from 454 to 508 active cases over the past 24 hours, with 10 people in hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

TORONTO — An Ottawa company says it’s received approval from Health Canada… Continue reading

Most Read