November 1st, 2020

Time for Don Cherry to hang up the microphone

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on November 13, 2019.

Cherry was a big part of hockey for 30-plus years, but his time has passed

By Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

My parents watched hockey, faithfully. From the basement, I could keep score by the groans/stomping/squealing/

screaming upstairs. My grandmother always had some spicy adjectives about Don Cherry. I didn’t pay much attention.

I did, however, realize that it was an important part of my family’s tradition, so to speak. So, on that day in 1989 when it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs and I was babysitting, I turned the game on. Somewhat ruefully, I’ll admit, but I knew it was a big day for my family.

After the final buzzer went and the Calgary Flames were Stanley Cup champions, I called my parents. They were crying with absolute joy. And I still remember that day É probably for another reason that I do not have any interest, as a passive Flames fan, in analyzing, but I digress É hockey reminds me of my family.

For many Canadians, Don Cherry was to Canada what Don Cherry is to hockey and our reputation precedes us on what hockey means to Canada. I remember once, when there were no Canadian teams left in the Stanley Cup playoffs, I just went through their rosters and picked the ones with the most Canadians. Then I had to narrow it down to the ones with the most Albertans – because there are a lot of Canadians all over the U.S. playing in the NHL.

The point is that hockey, our teams and the fact that we have so many Canadians playing, is a source of immense pride for many Canadians; even me, in my passive, but incredibly passionate when I’m watching, fandom.

Thankfully, it’s also a source of pride for sports-related companies. Thanks to corporate behemoths like Nike, who proved that you can stand up for what’s right and not hurt your bottom line, there is precedent for drawing a line.

Sport hasn’t always been a welcoming and inclusive environment. Until people realized that the best players win, not necessarily the best within the restrictive prerequisite of “but what colour is their skin?,” sport wasn’t the best demonstration of athleticism that it could be.

Baseball, even though there was an American Negro National League since 1920, didn’t start drafting players who weren’t white until 1947. The NBA was the same. Hockey was later still: 1958.

While hockey hasn’t had the influx of diversity in appearance that other sports have enjoyed, in Canada it’s a national pastime. Even for people who have never played the sport (like me), they probably grew up with it on the TV or radio. And it probably didn’t matter what their ethnic background was, because they were in Canada (but having a hometown hockey team that wasn’t cursed would help; *cough* Leafs *cough*).

Don Cherry has been part of that for over 30 years, legitimately as long as I can remember É but it’s time to hang up that suit and let someone else pick up the microphone. Because if you have to “watch what you say” so you don’t insult people who don’t look like you, you aren’t the best that Canada has to offer.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a political commentator, reporter, columnist and podcaster based in Strathmore.

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Quote “Because if you have to “watch what you say” so you don’t insult people who don’t look like you, you aren’t the best that Canada has to offer.

That is an interesting comment . If we had a society where free speech was encouraged instead of the stifling politically correct society we actually live in, there would be no need to “watch what you say”

Don Cherry observed what he had seen in Toronto, right or wrong , he has a right to his own opinion. Let’s compare what he said, and of course he is a conservative, with what Mr. Trudeau actually DID, and that of course was his ,at least three incidents of “blackface ‘ and ” brown face” considered by many as racist. The consequences for Trudeau was not to be fired, but to hailed and re elected.
Do we see a large degree of hypocrisy here, between left and right on the political scale ?

When I grew up there were “speakers corners” where people said the most outrageous things. It was considered entertainment , in a free and tolerant society. Yet here we are in a society that claims to be a tolerant inclusive one , yet politicians are not allowed to have politically incorrect personal beliefs, and the public is afraid to open their mouths in public. Wake up , fellow citizens and take back your right to free speech , even if it does offend the snowflakes in society.!


Don Cherry has a right to his own observations, but his public spot on TV does not give him a right to mix his observations with his perceptions and spout them publically.

Free speech comes with a measure of responsibility. When he chose to conflate Remembrance Day with his views on newcomers, it was distasteful and frankly Ill-informed. Perhaps he should look at the latest census from Toronto and compare where many of the minorities in Toronto originate with the devastation their origin countries faced during WWII. If Cherry wants to make simple comparisons, the two largest minority groups in Toronto suffered millions, not thousands, of losses in WWII.

I get the concerns about stifling free speech, but when it’s that misinformed and borders on hate, free speech has a cost. Perhaps those supporting his free speech at the expense of minority groups should check the numbers so you better understand what others have sacrificed and what you are commemorating.


There is no evidence that Cherry’s observations were misinformed, or not. They were his personal observations , to which he has every right to mention publicly. And no , you cannot play the racist card every time someone says something you don’t agree with.