BRIGHTON, Mass. — Bruce Cassidy was an unabashed Bruins fan growing up, so it’s no surprise that he was a fan of the “Lunch Pail AC” crew in the 1970’s coached by Don Cherry when he was a young hockey fan growing up in Ontario.
As a Canadian and a lover of hockey, Cassidy undoubtedly grew up with Coach’s Corner on Hockey Night in Canada and was one of the millions of Canadians who waited to see what Cherry was going to say every Saturday night. So it probably wasn’t easy for Cassidy to say he disagreed with Cherry’s comments from last weekend's Coach’s Corner that ended up getting him fired from his job as analyst with Hockey Night in Canada as a result.
But that’s exactly what the Bruins head coach did when asked about it following Tuesday’s morning skate as the Cherry firing remains a hot topic for discussions between his ardent supporters, and those that saw his divisive, offensive comments as going too far.
“Hockey vs. politics, I try to stay away from that. I don’t agree with what he said,” said Cassidy. “I love the fact that he was a great coach for the Bruins years ago. I love the way the team played. But that’s just my…not the way that I think.”
Cherry addressed the issue of Remembrance Day this past weekend during Coach’s Corner when it came to the subject of wearing a poppy symbolic of supporting the troops, and spoke up for the military as he often has during his nearly 40 years of work for Hockey Night in Canada. Unfortunately, Cherry also used that space to single out immigrants using the line “you people that come here”, and that was what ended being totally unnecessary and problematic.
"You people ... that come here, whatever it is. 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," Cherry said on Saturday night. "These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price.”
Clearly nobody is going to argue with Cherry’s wish that more people show symbolic support for the troops, but it was his reference to “you people…that come here” that was divisive, offensive and certainly pointed toward immigrants to Canada.
It was also something that plenty of hockey people, like Cassidy, can’t get behind when one of the NHL’s biggest initiatives right now is “Hockey is For Everyone” that should be welcoming everybody rather than seeking ways to divide.
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