Ron MacLean addresses Don Cherry firing

Ron MacLean addressed the controversial firing of his co-host Don Cherry in the first intermission of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. It was the first “Hockey Night” without Cherry in almost four decades.

Cherry was fired by Rogers Sportsnet on Monday for comments he made about immigrants not wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

“I live in Mississauga. Very few people wear the poppy. Downtown Toronto, forget it. Nobody wears the poppy. Now you go to the small cities. 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 or something like that,” Cherry said last Saturday. “These guys pay for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price for that.”

MacLean opened the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on Saturday by saying he was experiencing “mixed emotions”. He also called it “the end of the era.”

While MacLean mentioned the Cherry firing before the games started, he didn’t specifically address the situation until the first intermission.

MacLean used almost five minutes of airtime to address the firing and the end of Coach’s Corner.

“Coach’s Corner is no more,” MacLean said. “We are all hurting. I have collapsed a hundred times this week, if not more. We are all disappointed. Bobby Orr is disappointed in me. Bobby, I’m disappointed in me.”

“I’ve sat all week long reflecting listening to you [the viewer] and I have heard you. I’ve reflected by listening to my own heart…and I’ve struggled mightily to find the words.”

MacLean also said his break-up with Don Cherry was needed.

“There were steps that needed to be taken because of what had been said by Don and he didn’t want to do those steps. So…I decided to go one way and he another. And you say, okay, how can you choose principle over friendship but I had to,” MacLean said.

You can watch the full Ron MacLean video below:

Sportsnet has said they may eventually take the “Coach’s Corner” first-intermission segment in a different direction.

Cherry joined Hockey Night in  Canada in 1980 as a playoff analyst before becoming a colour commentator. He hosted “Coach’s Corner” with MacLean on CBC for almost four decades.