Don Cherry explains what he meant by 'you people' in poppy rant

One day after being let go by Sportsnet for comments made during his weekly Coach’s Corner segment on Saturday night, Don Cherry attempted to clarify the statements that comprised his passionate speech on the importance of wearing poppies in Canada.

“Well, I meant, I meant everybody,” he explained to Adrian Ghobrial of CityNews Toronto on Tuesday when asked who he meant by “you people” — a phrase that was interrupted by some as singling out immigrants.

“But I said the wrong thing... Everybody. That’s what I meant... When I left that night, nobody said anything. It was the next day that they talked about it and the whole deal. So, that’s the way people want to take it. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

After his rant was broadcast across the country prior to Remembrance Day in Canada, the importance of supporting the armed forces wasn’t up for debate (even though it became a common discussion online in the hours leading up to, and following, Cherry’s Monday dismissal). The issue that left many incensed was an inferred targeted attack on immigrants that don’t wear poppies — not all people that don’t.

“You people love... You, they come here. Whatever it is. You love our way of life, you love our milk and honey,” he stated on Saturday. “At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada...”

Three days removed from the broadcast, Cherry regrets the words he used during the segment while speaking about a cause very close to his heart.

“Yes, I wish I had said everybody,” Cherry said when asked by Ghobrial if he wished he had used different words. “But [there’s] nothing you can do about it. I didn’t use it and you can’t go back and say ‘wish.’ I wish I had done this, I wish I had done that. I did it and I’m paying the price.”

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)
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)

While he refused to apologize on Monday for his stance on wearing a poppy, Cherry did say he would have apologized for his choice of words if given the chance to do so this Saturday.

“I think if I had Saturday I would have, ah, apologized if I had of hurt people and stuff like that,” he said when Ghobrial inquired about whether he was asked to say sorry. “I think I would, I would have. And I said I would. But, it wasn’t enough...

“If I had the opportunity to go on [Coach’s Corner] this Saturday, I would go on and say I wish I had used ‘everybody.’”

Before his firing, Cherry suggested that he could have amended the situation and saved his position.

“I offered to come on, and put out a note,” he said, according to Michael Talbot and Adrian Ghobrial of CityNews. “But it wasn’t enough and they wanted me to do more and I wasn’t prepared to do it, it’s that simple... I could’ve had my job back if I agreed to do those things and I said ‘No.'

“It’s a good way to go out, if I gotta go.”

Per Talbot and Ghobrial, Cherry didn’t elaborate on what his employers asked him to do.

Sportsnet and Ron MacLean apologized for Cherry’s comments on Sunday while the Royal Canadian Legion did not condone his opinion.

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