Don Cherry was fired from Sporstnet on Monday, Nov. 11, bringing an end to the iconic hockey analyst’s weekly Hockey Night In Canada Coach’s Corner segment which began in 1981. (Contributed)

Don Cherry was fired from Sporstnet on Monday, Nov. 11, bringing an end to the iconic hockey analyst’s weekly Hockey Night In Canada Coach’s Corner segment which began in 1981. (Contributed)

COLUMN: MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Grapes falls victim to online justice

Glenn Mitchell reflects on the firing of Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry

It’s a sign of our times really.

From Canadian icon treasured enough to make the Top 10 list of greatest Canadians of all time, to a fired has-been in less than 48 hours. Now that’s modern justice for you.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, one without Wi-Fi, Don Cherry was fired on Remembrance Day, ironically, for something he said on Coach’s Corner last Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada.

He was trying to make a case for wearing poppies on Remembrance Day, to support and pay respect for the brave men and women who gave their lives so we can have the freedom and all the spoils that come with it.

Anyone who follows Grapes even remotely knows he is passionate about the military and an unabashedly proud patriot who plugs both flag and country every chance he gets. And not quietly.

I think that’s what he was trying to do Saturday night. At first comparing the apparent lack of poppies in Toronto to small-town Canada where you see them more often, he overstepped his reach by railing against “You people” who enjoy the riches of Canada but can’t cough up a couple of bucks for a poppy for those who sacrificed so much.

The most generous translation is his passion betrayed him as he stumbled through what was meant to be a plea for wearing poppies and a lesson on Canadiana 101 for newcomers, utilizing a few word choices that I’m sure he’d like to take back if he could.

It’s worth mentioning that part of Cherry’s charm in the first place is his lunch-bucket approach to language and life, so for him to get worked up about a subject he feels deeply about and stammer and stutter and maybe not express himself in the best words possible is not that unusual.

Besides, that’s what Ron MacLean is there for. He’s supposed to be the liberal, modern foil to some of Cherry’s more Neanderthal views.

On this night, he was strangely quiet, even giving Grapes a thumb’s up at the end of his rambling diatribe, although it wouldn’t be surprising if he missed a word or two of the grand finale.

READ MORE: Web Poll: Do you agree with Sportsnets firing of Don Cherry for ‘you people’ comment?

However, the Twittersphere wasn’t about to take this affront on humanity lying down and sat down and started judging with righteous indignation almost immediately.

Now to be fair, the ungenerous translation of Cherry’s ramblings is something to the effect of “get with the program or go home to where you came from.” That’s bad. That’s Trumpian bad.

That was not likely his intention, in his passionate pursuit of all things poppy, but the subtext was there nevertheless and gave the universe all the fodder it needed to pounce. And it did. Quickly.

By Sunday Sportsnet, the broadcaster of HNIC (bet you thought it was CBC), was feeling the heat and apologized for broadcasting such “divisive” material and that was followed by an apology by MacLean who managed to save his job by throwing Cherry under the team bus.

An NHL statement condemning Cherry soon followed. The pile-on game was in full swing.

So by Monday, Cherry was gonzo after 38 years of service. He is 85 so some said good riddance and others said: “It’s about time.”

Maybe, but I say it’s a shame and another sad example of internet justice run amok. So much for any sober second thought on the issue.

In an earlier time, the incident would have been reported in the press Tuesday, following the holiday, and discussed in towns and cities for days until Cherry had the time to address any outstanding issues, like possibly an apology, the following Saturday on Coach’s Corner.

But not in today’s world where the possibility of something going viral haunts us all.

I sometimes miss parts of the game on HNIC but never the first-period intermission. That’s over. He loves Canada and he loves our national game, warts and all. And Canada, most of it, loves him back, warts and all.

READ MORE: Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

READ MORE: At least 3 hurt in California school shooting, gunman sought

Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former editor of The Morning Star.

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

Just Posted

The Okanagan’s first virtual wedding fair will be held Saturday, March 27. {Paul Rodgers photo)
Okanagan to host virtual wedding fair

Okanagan wine country is No. 1 destination for weddings - online event set for March 27

The Okanagan High Rim Trail officially opened in April 1994. Pictured are Western Canada Wilderness Committee volunteers Bruce Sumner and Jean Elmer. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives photo #14932)
Vernon history in pictures

A look at the opening of a trail running from Vernon to Kelowna

Vernon Search and Rescue, with help from the Air Rescue One helicopter out of Wildcat Helicopters in Kelowna, and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, were able to transport an injured snowmobiler to Vernon Regional Airport, where he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital with a serious, painful back injury. (Facebook photo)
Okanagan helicopter rescue teams called to retrieve injured sledder at Greystokes

Vernon and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue help load injured man into waiting helicopter

Kerri and Kevin Black are highlighted for their volunteer work with the Carr's Landing Community and Recreation Association. (Contributed)
Lake Country couple’s passion to make a difference

Spotlight on Carr’s Landing Community and Recreation Association volunteers

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Kelowna flight potentially exposed to COVID-19

Third case on a local flight this month, compared to 14 through January

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Wills Hodgkinson, 10, and his mom Neeley Brimer get ready to battle round three of cancer. The community of Penticton has his back. (Submitted)
Community raises $21K to help Penticton boy battle third round of cancer

Okanoggin Barbers held the fundraiser on Saturday for 10-year-old Wills Hodgkinson

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
UPDATE: 70-year-old man killed in workplace accident at Baldy Mountain

The mountain closed on Saturday but has partially re-opened today (Sunday)

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two separate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

Most Read