Don Cherry addresses firing: 'I speak the truth and I walk the walk'

Sportsnet dismissed hockey commentator Don Cherry after anti-immigrant comments during Saturday’s broadcast.

Cherry sneered at Toronto and its surrounding communities for not purchasing poppies ahead of Remembrance Day, snarling at “you people” in an unprompted, unprovoked rant on Coach’s Corner.

The 85-year-old spoke to the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington, where he was fiercely unapologetic about his comments.

“I have just learned I’ve been fired by Sportsnet for comments made on Coach’s Corner Nov. 9,” Cherry said. “No problem.

“I know what I said and I meant it. Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honour our fallen soldiers.”

Cherry has been a national institution for decades, hosting Coach’s Corner alongside Ron MacLean since 1986. He made his pro-military stance clear throughout the interview with Warmington, while refusing to address immigrants that were disturbed by his rant.

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Don Cherry through the years
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Don Cherry through the years
BOSTON, MA. - 1970's: Don Cherry coach of the Boston Bruins address media from his desk at Boston Garden. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA. - 1970's: Don Cherry coach of the Boston Bruins and his dog Blue at home pose for camera. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Hockey commentator and former Boston Bruins coach Don Cherry, center, drops the ceremonial first puck on a faceoff prior to an NHL hockey game between the Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs in Boston, Thursday, March 4, 2010. At left is Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara of Slovakia; at right is Leafs defenseman Francois Beauchemin. (AP Photo/Charlie Krupa)
BOSTON, MA. - 1970's: Don Cherry coach of the Boston Bruins watches action against the Atlanta Flames . (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA. - 1970's: Don Cherry coach of the Boston Bruins plays behind bench. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - 1970's: Don Cherry head coach of the Boston Bruins poses on the bench. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Boston Bruins head coach Don Cherry behind the bench during a game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, 1970s. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)
CANADA - OCTOBER 27: Tiny; perfect Bruin. Stan Jonathan (left) at 5 feet 7 inches tal is the mighty mite of the gritty Boston Bruins hockey club. The Iroquois Indian's small stature has not stopped him from becoming what team coach Don Cherry calls the definitive Boston Bruin. (Photo by Boris Spremo/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Canadian hockey announcer Don Cherry watches the Philadelphia Flyers during practice at the NHL Stanley Cup hockey finals on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, in Philadelphia. The Blackhawks lead the series 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 24: Former Boston Bruins coach Don Cherry poses for a portrait inside his home with his dog, Blue, in North Andover, Mass., May 24, 1979. (Photo by Bill Ryerson/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 2: Colorado Rockies coach Don Cherry stands near the bench during a game against the Boston Bruins at the Boston Garden, Dec. 2, 1979. (Photo by Frank O'Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
TELE VISION PERSONALITY DON CHERRY POSES IN FRONT OF THE CANADIAN FLAG WITH A BOSTON BRUIN DOG DURING A PHOTO SHOOT.
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26: Former Boston Bruins player Bobby Orr, left, shakes hands with former coach Don Cherry before the final event at Boston Garden in Boston before its closure on Sep. 26, 1995. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 4: Don Cherry, former coach of the Boston Bruins and current Hockey Night in Canada host, talks with the media before the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden on March 4, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
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“I speak the truth and I walk the walk,” Cherry 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 honoured our fallen troops on Coach’s Corner.”

Sportsnet released a statement Sunday, saying the network had spoke to Cherry about his remarks. The network released another ineffectual statement on Monday upon Cherry's dismissal. 

Cherry believed that being a decent human being that avoided bigotry on the air somehow equated to censorship.

“To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot,” Cherry said.

The broadcaster did leave a message for his fans, some of whom are apparently outraged that bigotry no longer is acceptable by a major broadcasting partner.

“I want to thank everyone who has watched Coach’s Corner over the last 35 years,” Cherry said.

“Remember to wear your poppy to honour our fallen soldiers … Thumbs up.”

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