CBC puts Cherry on 7-second delay

The CBC is taking action to tone down its controversial hocket commentator Don Cherry.

The CBC has decided to put an end to "reprehensible" remarks by Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry.

Harold Redekopp, the executive vice-president of CBC Television, says the network will put Cherry on a seven-second delay after he made "inappropriate and reprehensible personal" comments during the broadcast on Jan. 24.

During the first period intermission Cherry spoke out about players wearing visors on their helmets. In full flight he said, "most of the guys that wear them are Europeans or French guys ..."

The remark was roundly criticized by French language groups across the country. Canada's Official Languages Commissioner Dyane Adam also noticed. A spokesperson said the commissioner feels it's an "important enough issue that she's going to investigate" whether Cherry's remarks violate the Official Languages Act.

In his news release on Friday, Redekopp said CBC Television "categorically rejects and denounces his opinions," while at the same time acknowledging that Cherry has been "an important part of the Canadian hockey scene as a player, coach and commentator over the past five decades.

"Fans across the country have tuned in to Hockey Night in Canada's Coach's Corner for over 20 years because of his insights and understanding of the game," the release said.

Coverage from CBC Sports

But, Redekopp says, Cherry's remarks were "inappropriate and reprehensible opinion as part of his discussion about the use of visors." His comments on Jan. 24, said Redekopp, "stepped beyond the role."

Cherry has been in trouble many times before for his controversial comments, which aren't limited to hockey.

Last year, he and host Ron MacLean stirred up a hornets' nest when they spent an entire Coach's Corner discussing Canada's decision not to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

In 1998, CBC ombudsman David Bazay ruled Cherry went too far when he ranted about Jean-Luc Brassard being selected as Canada's flag-bearer at Nagano Olympics. Cherry called the Olympic gold medalist "a French guy, some skier that nobody knows about."

Cherry has also taken on Quebec nationalists, saying "they don't like the Canadian flag but they want our money, we bail them out. I've never seen such a bunch of whiners in my life."

The CBC will now put Coach's Corner on a seven-second delay. "This practice is common on many live broadcasts and is in effect immediately," Redekopp said.

The controversy swept across Parliament on Friday, too. The Bloc Québécois called Cherry's remarks racist. And Denis Coderre the minister responsible for la Francophonie, says he's fed up with Cherry.

"Frankly, I think that when you are talking about it and calling the Frenchmen wimps, I mean it's unacceptable."

NDP Leader Jack Layton said he was annoyed by the implication about French Canadian hockey players. "One of my most vivid memories is going to the Montreal Forum with my dad, at age six, and seeing Boom Boom Geoffrion, Maurice Richard, the Pocket Rocket [Henri Richard], playing the most amazing hockey. They are some of the greatest hockey players in Canadian history."

But Conservative MP Peter MacKay said people are overreacting. "It seems to be more of a commentary on their style of play, as opposed to anything to do with their language or ethnic origins."

Coach's Corner won't be seen this weekend. The CBC will broadcast the annual NHL All-Star game. Cherry will return to his regular slot on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14.