Ron MacLean (left) sits beside Don Cherry as Rogers TV unveils their team for the station’s NHL coverage in Toronto on Monday, March 10, 2014. MacLean addressed Don Cherry’s dismissal during the first intermission of Saturday’s “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ron MacLean (left) sits beside Don Cherry as Rogers TV unveils their team for the station’s NHL coverage in Toronto on Monday, March 10, 2014. MacLean addressed Don Cherry’s dismissal during the first intermission of Saturday’s “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

NHL commissioner declines to weigh in on Cherry, says MacLean ‘spoke from the heart’

Bettman declined to weigh in on Cherry’s departure

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Sportsnet broadcaster Ron MacLean “spoke from the heart” during his monologue on “Hockey Night in Canada” over the weekend.

MacLean opened the first intermission segment on Saturday night — the first since Cherry was fired last week — by speaking alone on camera for nearly five minutes.

Bettman, a panellist at the PrimeTime sports management conference on Monday at a downtown Toronto hotel, said MacLean “obviously made his feelings clear.”

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

Bettman declined to weigh in on Cherry’s departure.

“I believe the CBC has had a number of statements, we’ve had a number of statements, Don has spoken and I’m not going to start another news cycle,” he said.

HNIC was a longtime CBC Saturday night staple, but the show and its games moved to Sportsnet in 2014 after Rogers agreed to a lucrative, long-term rights deal with the NHL.

“Coach’s Corner” and HNIC are still broadcast on CBC in a sub-licensing deal with Rogers Media, which owns Sportsnet.

Cherry used the phrase, “You people,” during the “Coach’s Corner” segment on Nov. 9 but later denied that he was singling out visible minorities.

MacLean, who apologized the day after, talked at length about his close relationship with Cherry during his monologue but said he had to choose “principle over friendship,” adding “Coach’s Corner is no more.”

READ MORE: MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley was originally scheduled to be a panellist on a sports media roundtable at the conference Monday morning.

He was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, a spokesperson said.

Cherry’s firing and its ramifications have dominated the Canadian news cycle since his departure was announced Nov. 11.

The 85-year-old native of Kingston, Ont., joined HNIC in 1980 as a playoff analyst and was so popular that he was kept on as a colour commentator. CBC later created “Coach’s Corner” as a vehicle to showcase Cherry, with MacLean eventually replacing Dave Hodge as co-host.

Sportsnet is exploring new format options for the first intermission, a spokesperson said.

READ MORE: Sportsnet looks at new options for Coach’s Corner time slot, post-Don Cherry

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pea sized hail rained from the skies in Prince Rupert on Nov. 30 leaving roads covered in a sheet of ice. (Photo; K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Large hail caused icy conditions in Prince Rupert

High wind warnings in effect for North Coast and Haida Gwaii

The Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is now 75 per cent complete, announced Prince Rupert Port Authority on Nov. 30. (Photo: supplied by PRPA)
Crews are working 24 hours a day to complete vital infrastructure road in Prince Rupert

Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is 75% complete announced Prince Rupert Port Authority

Illustration courtesy Pacific Northern Gas
Illustration shows what’s involved with the plan by Pacific Northern Gas to expand the capacity of its natural gas line serving the northwest.
LNG projects hold out potential for lower gas user rates

LNG plants planned for Port Edward and Terrace

Prince Rupert carving artist Henry Kelly is having his work installed on Nov. 20, as a permanent art exhibit at the Prince Rupert Regional Airport. The traditional cedar canoe is a welcome symbol to those arriving at YPR. (Photo: supplied)
Art unveiling ceremonies at YPR cancelled due to new pandemic restrictions

Coast Tsimshian Cultural Exhibit at Prince Rupert Regional Airport features local carvers

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Most Read