When will enough be enough with Don Cherry and Coach's Corner?

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Editors's note: This article was published before news broke that Don Cherry was fired.

Don Cherry doesn't represent me. He likely doesn't represent you. The Canada he longs for, and the hockey community he longs for, have both long since passed out of date.

But, in choosing a set of carefully crafted words over swift action for his most recent diatribe, Rogers Communications and its Sportsnet brand continues to make it appear as though Cherry does represent us.

This is inexcusable for a company that, since taking over the Hockey Night in Canada franchise in 2014, has had multiple opportunities to part ways with the divisive commentator. Saturday night was the latest invitation for Sportsnet to take Cherry off the air, and they whiffed.

"Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network," Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley said in a short statement released Sunday morning in the wake of significant online backlash. "We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."

A statement such as this - one in which Cherry's boss acknowledges the discrimination and vaguely apologizes for it - is better than nothing. But it's not nearly enough. Sportsnet, and by extension Rogers, one of Canada's largest employers, is enabling xenophobia by keeping Coach's Corner alive in its current form.

*Note: MacLean issued his own apology Sunday

In case you missed it, Cherry claimed Saturday during his usual intermission segment that few people in downtown Toronto are wearing poppies ahead of Remembrance Day. Smaller Canadian cities aren't experiencing this issue, he insists, ostensibly suggesting immigrants aren't appreciative of Canada's war history and the country's fallen soldiers.

"You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that," Cherry said. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price."

Cherry then called those who have purchased a poppy the "good Canadians." The manner in which Cherry delivered his message - full of righteous indignation and fumbling incoherence that is typical for him - left no room for alternative interpretation. He has a specific view of how Canada should be, how it should look, and who should live in it, and that view was broadcast to millions; many of whom are immigrants or second-generation Canadians.

How do you think those who work on the Punjabi production of Hockey Night in Canada feel today?

The NHL and its partners love to tout the 'Hockey is for Everyone' diversity campaign, but the initiative's message gets dragged through the mud whenever the 85-year-old Cherry undermines people who don't look like him. "Hockey is at its best when it brings people together," the NHL said in its own statement, which was released two hours after Sportsnet's. "The comments made last night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in."

This, of course, is not a one-off incident, and now the ball is in Sportsnet's court. Saying Cherry doesn't represent the company's values in one breath and then trotting him out week after week to a gigantic audience does nothing to solve the core problem. Based on history, a slap on the wrist won't deter Cherry from wading into these waters in the future. Next Saturday will come quick.

Cherry, who has been on Hockey Night in Canada for nearly four decades, doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point. His unique platform - speaking directly to millions in a peak slot as a part of the sport's most storied brand - is a privilege, not a right. It's time to take that privilege away and hand the primetime role to someone inclusive and open-minded.

On the whole, Cherry's views on hockey are shallow and outdated. Two of his most common shticks revolve around the correlation between wearing expensive suits and winning games, and how bare-knuckle fighting is a necessity. One assumes kids can't respect the game without his approved pre-game uniform, and the other is an affront to everyone who has suffered from the dark toll of rock-em-sock-em hockey. He rarely adds insight to the sport's weekly conversation.

Cherry's hopelessly stuck in the past, and a mountain of evidence has given Rogers and Sportsnet a hell of a case for dismissing him from his role on Hockey Night in Canada. When will enough be enough?

John Matisz is theScore's national hockey writer.

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When will enough be enough with Don Cherry and Coach's Corner?
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