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VIDEO: Ron MacLean on Don Cherry and the legacy of Coach's Corner

'Grapes was good at reaching his viewer and knowing what they wanted, but we are held to a different standard now and I don’t know if we could have made it much longer'

It’s been 3½ years since Coach’s Corner was pulled off the air — an abrupt ending to a piece of television that was as Canadian as the show’s topic.

What triggered its demise made plenty of headlines at the time: In a segment that aired the day before Remembrance Day in 2019, Don Cherry singled out immigrants for not wearing poppies.

“You people that come here,” he said. “You love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

Co-host Ron MacLean apologized the next day, telling viewers “we failed you.” Cherry refused to say sorry and was subsequently fired.

Still a staple of Hockey Night in Canada, MacLean was a recent guest on Village Media’s Inside the Village podcast. He was asked about the current state of his relationship with Cherry — his broadcast partner for nearly three decades — and the legacy of Coach’s Corner

“Grapes was good at reaching his viewer and knowing what they wanted — expert at that — but we are held to a different metric or standard now, and I don’t know if we could have made it much longer,” MacLean said on the podcast. “So I’m glad Don went out and people aren’t that mad at him for what he said. They should be — don’t ever get me wrong. You can’t project an attitude on people just because of where they’re from. We were so wrong, and it just needed an apology and it would have been gone; we would have been onward and upward. But people aren’t that angry about it. It wasn’t the worst thing that’s ever been said in the history of humanity, so he kind of went out on top and people miss him and I think that’s kind of a nice way to be.”

You can MacLean's full interview HERE.

Hosted by Scott Sexsmith and Michael Friscolanti, the Editor-in-Chief of Village Media, Inside the Village is a news and current affairs podcast that provides a weekly window into some of the best local journalism from across our chain of Ontario newsrooms. Produced by Derek Turner, the program also explores bigger-picture issues that impact people across the province.

Every episode is available on this news site /insidethevillage. If you prefer the audio version, it is available wherever you find your favourite podcasts.

You can reach us at [email protected].

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