‘He’s not a racist’: Bobby Orr defended Don Cherry in wake of comment controversy

"He's not a bigot and he's not a racist. This guy is the most generous, caring guy that I know."

Former Bruins head coach Don Cherry(left) and Bruins great Bobby Orr share a laugh in a suite before the Bruins play the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals at TD Garden.
Former Bruins head coach Don Cherry(left) and Bruins great Bobby Orr shared a laugh in a suite before the Bruins played the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals at TD Garden. –ohn Tlumacki/Globe Staff

As longtime sports broadcaster and former Bruins coach Don Cherry continues to face backlash for controversial comments he made on his Coach’s Corner segment, some supporters are coming to his defense.

One supporter is Bruins legend Bobby Orr, who played for Cherry for two seasons. Orr told WEEI on Thursday that “Grapes”, as he was called, is the most “caring guy” and called his firing “disgraceful”.

“I know Grapes better than anyone,” Orr said.  “He’s not a bigot and he’s not a racist. This guy is the most generous, caring guy that I know. What they’ve done to him up there is disgraceful.”

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Cherry was fired on Monday by Sportsnet, which stated that it did not want to be associated with the “divisive remarks” that Cherry made on air. Those comments include his use of “you people,” which seemed to target Canadian immigrants.

“You people that come here 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. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price.”

Cherry has since clarified that he meant “everybody”, which he told CityNews Toronto on Tuesday. He also appeared on Fox News, admitting that his choice of words is what got him in trouble.

“It’s the two words that got it, as you know, people are sensitive like that,” Cherry told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “These soldiers died so we can have our way of life. At least wear a poppy in their honor.”

“I know what I said and I meant it,” he added. “Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honor our fallen soldiers.”