WARMINGTON: Grapes bemoans he sees too few wearing poppies

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On the 100th anniversary of using the poppy to remember our fallen, Don Cherry worries the custom could be heading for extinction because he has seen few people wearing them.


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Two years after losing his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night In Canada over controversial comments about many not wearing Remembrance Day poppies, Cherry once again is unhappy with what he’s seeing.

“I went to downtown Toronto and all I saw were two poppies,” he said Tuesday. “It upset me!”

The 87-year-old legendary hockey coach and broadcaster was fired by Rogers two years ago on Remembrance Day for his now-infamous rant in which he called new immigrants “you people,” and expressed disapproval over newcomers not wearing poppies.

Now, upon reflection, Cherry acknowledged he could have made his point in a better way.

“If I had to do it over again, not that I would ever apologize, I would have said ‘everybody,’” Grapes told the Toronto Sun.


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“That’s what I should have said because when I go downtown, I don’t see anybody wearing them. What I was trying to do was tell the people who have come over from the other countries that we wear poppies,” he added. “I guess I didn’t explain it right, but I am explaining it right now. I should have said ‘everybody.’”

He paid a price for how it was taken.

“It cost me a lot of money,” said Cherry with a laugh. “A million bucks. That’s what I was making.”

He now realizes that regardless of the fallout, including the ending of a long on- and off-air friendship with sidekick Ron MacLean, it was time for his iconic run to end.

“It was time to go, I guess,” he said. “That’s life. You say something, you pay the price, and you don’t whine about it.”


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While Hockey Night in Canada is not the same without him, Cherry is “happy” doing his Don Cherry Grapevine podcast with son, Tim, daughter Cindy, and grandson Del. His podcast has racked up 3.5 million downloads so far, and there are no censors trying to silence him.

“I do everything the same for the podcast that I did for Hockey Night in Canada ,” he said. “I have a lot of fun.”

On Tuesday, he was stopped by people talking about how much they miss him on TV. But that’s not what he’s thinking about these days. That’s not something he’s thinking about anymore.

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“It was funny, the big, tough truck drivers and construction guys … get all choked up,” he said, adding all he can say is “thank you.”

He loves those blue-collar Canadians, “and the military and the police.”


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Although he has not spoken to MacLean since he was dropped by Rogers, he said the rift has been blown up bigger than it really is.

MacLean hasn’t been invited to do the podcast, but Cherry said, “I am not mad at Ron. My wife is. But I am not … I don’t have a problem with him. He did what he did. That’s the way he is. But I know a lot of people have a problem with him.”

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While people wearing poppies are not always noticeable in some pockets of the country, there is robust support in other centres.

The Royal Canadian Legion this week told media outlets that “20 million poppies” are available at branches from coast to coast.

Cherry’s point is he would like to see everybody wearing one.


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