What should CBC do with Don Cherry?
He was a better hockey coach than a player, and a better commentator than a coach. But as Don Cherry's career gained momentum, so did the controversy. Brash, outspoken and flamboyant, Cherry has the biggest mouth in hockey. It's a quality that Canadians either love, love to hate, or just hate. From his time on ice to his time on air, Don Cherry's unrestrained commentary has often landed him in hot water.
. Executive vice-president of CBC Television Harold Redekopp responded to that incident by writing, "Don was speaking for himself, not the CBC. We disagree with, and disassociate ourselves from, his comments, which we consider to be inappropriate and uninformed. We have made it clear to both Don and Ron that Coach's Corner is not an appropriate place to air opinions about the Iraq War. As for what Don said on this private radio show, we think it showed bad judgement and we frankly wish he hadn't said it."
. Don Cherry made his infamous visors comment on a Jan. 24, 2004, Coach's Corner segment. He asserted that players who wear visors are more likely to injure other players with their sticks. "Usually the guys who are cutting guys are the ones who wear visors... because they don't show the same respect."
. The remark incensed fans, French-language groups, CBC executives and some federal MPs. Adrian Dix of the group Parents for French said Cherry "has every right to express his own views on visors. But what I think is objectionable is to attack a linguistic group."
. Cherry's comments also prompted investigations from the CBC ombudsman, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and official languages commissioner Dyane Adam. (As of October 2004, the results of these investigations had not been completed or made public.)
. In March 2004, the CBC responded by placing Coach's Corner on a seven-second delay, theoretically giving program producers enough time to prevent any future inappropriate comments from reaching the airwaves. "CBC Television categorically rejects and denounces the personal opinions Mr. Cherry expressed during the segment," wrote Harold Redekopp. "Comments such as those expressed during the show cannot be repeated and will not be tolerated."
. Following the visors comment, Winnipeg lawyer Curtis Unfried did the math and told CBC Newsworld that Cherry was actually correct. According to Unfried, on average, 35 per cent of all NHL players wear visors. Unfried concluded that 59 per cent of European players and 55 per cent of French-Canadian players wore visors, compared to 20 per cent of North American players born outside Quebec. Toronto Star and Canadian Press surveys came up with similar numbers.
. CBC Sports Online conducted its own analysis on high-sticking injuries, and concluded that Cherry's comment about injuries was wrong. Of the 97 high-sticking penalties called over the previous 82 games, 34 per cent were drawn by players wearing visors -- almost exactly proportional to the percentage of visor-wearers.
. Appearing on The Mike Bullard Show, Cherry was asked if he was a bigot or prejudiced. "I don't think so," Cherry replied, but jokingly qualified it by saying, "I might be discriminatory."
. In October 2004, CBC viewers voted Don Cherry one of the 10 "Greatest Canadians." His surprise inclusion -- among such luminaries as Tommy Douglas, Terry Fox and Sir John A. Macdonald -- created a media uproar. A comment in the Globe and Mail suggested viewers must have accidentally voted for the "Most Grating Canadian." The Toronto Star's Garth Woolsey concluded that "the stereotypes are true: We really are a nation of shallow, narrow-minded, beer-swilling, puck-chasing hosers. Proud of it, too."
Broadcast Date: Feb. 15, 2004
Guest(s): Derrick Beckles, Dave Bidini, Christie Blatchford, Yves Boisvert, Rob Feenie, John Furedy, François Gagnon, Doug Holmes, Susan Martinuk, Pete McCormack, Danielle Sauvageau
Host: Carole MacNeil
Last updated: November 1, 2012
Page consulted on April 3, 2013
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