Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri provided a unique perspective following the aftermath of Don Cherry's dismissal from Sportsnet on Monday for making offensive comments about Canadian immigrants.
"(Cherry) has been there for so long, it's going to be hard to see (Hockey Night in Canada) without him. That's definitely unfortunate," Kadri told the Denver Post's Kyle Fredrickson. "I know Grapes and I don't think it came across like everyone is making it sound. I think with what he said, it was maybe just said incorrectly. People maybe took it out of context a little bit. I know Grapes is a great person and am sad to see him go."
Cherry, a longtime supporter of the Canadian troops, went on a rant during Saturday's edition of "Coach's Corner" about the country's immigrants not wearing poppies to honor Canada's veterans.
"You people that come here, 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 on Hockey Night in Canada. He didn't apologize for his comments in the days following, adding "I know what I said and I meant it."
Kadri has a bit of a history with Cherry, though. As a 22-year-old with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he appeared on-air alongside Cherry and Ron MacLean in 2013. Cherry famously kissed Kadri on the cheek, just as he did to Doug Gilmour 20 years earlier.
Kadri's father immigrated to Canada with his parents in the 1960s.
"The sport brings everyone together with the team values and the work ethic," Kadri said. "It taught me a lot about those two things. Now, I go watch my little cousins play in their youth development programs and there are a variety of ethnicities on their team. When I was growing up, I was kind of the only one. It’s good to see now."
Cherry, 85, had held his job since 1981.