October 16, 2011
On Saturday night during CBC's Coach's Corner, Don Cherry offered an apology to former NHL players Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson after calling them "turncoats" and "hypocrites" and "pukes" for what he alleged was their anti-fighting stance. Said Cherry:
"I gotta admit, I was wrong on a bunch of things. I took three enforcers, three tough guys — my kind of guys — and I threw them under the bus, and I'm sorry for it. I really am."
Motivating this unprecedented mea culpa from Cherry: The three enforcers releasing a statement that called Cherry's initial comments "baseless and slanderous," leading to speculation about litigation against Cherry.
On Sunday night, the Grimson, Nilan and Thomson released a joint statement that they've accepted Cherry's apology that they "wish to state that they do not intend to pursue such recourse, as a group."
Grimson, however, released his own statement — one that continues to express frustration with CBC, Cherry and Ron McLean, writing, "You cannot stand on the highest mountaintop in the country — Hockey Night in Canada — and point your finger at these men and shout down to the Nation that you believe they're 'pukes, turncoats and hypocrites' simply because they have a different point of view than you."
"I saw Don Cherry's comments on Saturday night and I need to make just a few points as this matter comes to a close. First, I appreciate the words Mr. Cherry used; I accept his apology. As far as I'm concerned, this disagreement is now settled as between Mr. Cherry and me.
"Second, there has been widespread speculation about whether our group will seek legal recourse as a result of Mr. Cherry's comments. We believed it was prudent to consider that path initially, given the words that Mr. Cherry used on a national broadcast to describe us. Having said that, I want to make clear that I have no present intention of pursuing a cause of action against Mr. Cherry.
"Third, in spite of my earlier comments on this matter, Ron McLean appears to be missing the point, even at this late date. Mr. McLean is presently saying at least two things on this issue. 'We got bad information from another former player ... I didn't see any trouble with what Don said.'
"Look, Don got his facts wrong. That's fine; he apologized for it and the matter is settled. But the bigger issue remains. This isn't about the accuracy of the information. This isn't about whether Mr. Cherry should have checked his facts. This isn't about whether Stu Grimson is against fighting or for it. This is about the words Mr. Cherry chose and the way he chose to express them.
"And let's not forget the context; Ron & Don waded into a very sensitive prominent discussion about the recent tragic deaths of Derek Boogaard(notes), Rick Rypien(notes) and my friend, Wade Belak(notes). These are three men that battled the demons and they lost. In offering his opinion on this issue, Mr. Cherry targeted two other men who played this same role and who battle some of these same demons. Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson.
"My point is this. You cannot stand on the highest mountaintop in the country — Hockey Night in Canada — and point your finger at these men and shout down to the Nation that you believe they're 'pukes, turncoats and hypocrites' simply because they have a different point of view than you. You cannot use that platform to target anyone in that way — and especially not men who are battling to get their lives back on track. You cannot shout those names at these men with that kind of fury and expect not to answer for it. I believe this is why the response to Mr. Cherry's comments has been as strong as it has.
"Mr. McLean: It's about the rage, the vitriol, in the public discourse. It's wrong as a legal matter; it's wrong as a matter of common civility.
"Lastly, it's not my decision where this goes from here. This is a decision for Canadians. The CBC is your network; you pay for it. And you hold the network to certain standards and values. Among those values is the obligation to 'treat individuals with honesty and respect.'
"Some viewers might actually believe that Ron & Don treated these men with honesty and respect. Those people might be content to just shrug their shoulders and say 'hey, no big deal, that's just Don being Don.' And that's fine. Those people are entitled to that point of view.
"But other viewers might believe that Ron & Don fell way short of those values. And if that's the case, I would encourage those people to direct their comments to the CBC. Please, don't call or email me anymore; it's not important that I know how you feel. Tell your Ombudsman at the CBC how you feel. He's a very nice man and he's there to maintain the integrity of the CBC as an institution for broadcasting."
Grimson included the ombudsman address for CBC — firstname.lastname@example.org. Once again, here's the rant that started it all: