In the first intermission to air on Hockey Night in Canada without Don Cherry at his side, host Ron MacLean addressed viewers alone for almost five minutes, saying, “we are all hurting.”
“I have collapsed a hundred times this week if not more,” he said. “We’re all disappointed.”
MacLean says he has spent time “reflecting.”
“I’ve sat all week long reflecting, listening to you, and I’ve heard you — I mean you the viewer,” he said.
Before the hockey game kicked off, MacLean told viewers he planned to address his 85-year-old former co-host’s dismissal during the first intermission.
MacLean opened Saturday’s show by saying there were “obviously mixed emotions” ahead of the broadcast, calling it “the end of an era.”
The first intermission featured the 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees, who are set for a Monday induction ceremony.
On Friday, Sportsnet said it is considering new directions for the long-running segment.
“We’re taking the time to explore new formats for the first intermission,” Sportsnet communications director Andrew Garas told The Canadian Press.
Cherry was fired from his job on Monday after his Nov. 9 Coach’s Corner segment, in which he appeared to say newcomers to Canada don’t wear poppies, implying they don’t support veterans.
“You people … 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 in the televised segment.
“These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”
Sportsnet said he “made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.”
In an interview earlier this week, Cherry didn’t apologize for his comments but said he would have chosen different words if he could do it again.
MacLean issued an apology the day after Cherry’s comments, saying he wished he had handled it differently.
Earlier on Saturday, Cherry addressed the events of the past week by thanking his supporters.
“Again, I want to thank everyone who has called emailed, dropped by the house this past week. It will take weeks to personally get back to everyone, so I am again, thanking you all now,” he tweeted.
— With files by Meghan Collie, The Canadian Press