Sportsnet has fired commentator Don Cherry following the comments he made on-air Saturday about new immigrants wearing Remembrance Day poppies, the network announced on Monday.
"Sports brings people together–it unites us, not divides us. Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday night's broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down," Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley said. "During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for."
Poppies are sold every year on the last Friday in October until Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) to raise money and support for veterans and their families.
On Saturday's broadcast of Coach's Corner, Cherry said, "You people... you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that."
He added, "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.".
Cherry, 85, spoke to the Toronto Sun on Monday after learning he'd been fired. He told the newspaper he was sharing his opinion on the broadcast on the lack of people wearing poppies.
"I speak the truth and I walk the truth," he said. "I have visited the bases of the troops, been to Afghanistan with our brave soldiers at Christmas, been to cemeteries of our fallen around the world and honored our fallen troops on Coach's Corner."
He added, "I know what I said and I meant it. Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honor our fallen soldiers."
Following his career as a coach with the Boston Bruins and Colorado Rockies, Cherry was hired in 1981 on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada as a commentator. His large personality and loud suits made him a popular figure in hockey media.
Following his on-air comments, Sportsnet issued a statement on Sunday to apologize for Cherry's comments.
"Don's discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network," Yabsley said. "We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks."
Cherry's Hockey Night in Canada cohost Ron MacLean took to Twitter Sunday evening to apologize.
"I want to sincerely apologize to our viewers and Canadians," MacLean tweeted. "During last night's broadcast, Don made comments that were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently. It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it."