What the heck is going on up there? Political Correctness Claims a Tough Guy Hockey legend Don Cherry is fired, and Canadian elites cheer. By Elliot Kaufman Nov. 12, 2019 6:51 pm ET My childhood friends in Canada couldn’t believe my family still had a VCR. I blamed my “old-fashioned” parents, but in fact I needed it to watch Don Cherry’s “Rock’em Sock’em Hockey” highlight tapes. The legendary commentator and former Boston Bruins coach begins one 1998 film at center ice in Toronto’s old Maple Leaf Gardens. “Maj. Conn Smythe built this in the Depression,” Mr. Cherry says. “And you know what Mr. Smythe said? ‘If you can’t beat ’em in the alleys, you won’t beat ’em on the ice.’ And he was right!” Cue highlights of bone-crushing hits. But then comes a twist—one that helps explain why Mr. Cherry, often called “Grapes,” has been a Canadian icon for decades. “You know, when I’m talking about tough guys,” Mr. Cherry explains, “I’m talking about guys who go into the corners first”—that is, the guys getting creamed, not the ones doing the creaming. Nobly digging the puck out for their teams, “they’re the guys that pay the price.” Now Grapes, 85, is paying. On Saturday, his last TV segment before Remembrance Day, Mr. Cherry vented that, unlike in Canada’s small towns, few people in downtown Toronto and his suburb of Mississauga (both home to large immigrant populations) wear commemorative red poppies. That’s probably accurate. But he went further: “You people that come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you can pay a couple of bucks for poppies.” Canada’s fallen soldiers, he said, “paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price.” Sportsnet, his employer, called this “discriminatory.” All the beautiful people agreed. Peter Mansbridge, dean of Canadian newscasters and a pyromaniac in a field of straw men, took to print to scold Mr. Cherry that not all Canadian veterans are white. Mr. Cherry’s fate was sealed. He was unceremoniously fired Monday, on Remembrance Day, after more than three decades at the hit TV series “Hockey Night in Canada.” “No problem,” says Grapes. “I know what I said and I meant it. Everybody in Canada should wear a poppy to honor our fallen soldiers.” “Don Cherry’s firing is a good day for hockey, and Canada,” the Toronto Star editorialized. “Rock-’em-sock-’em hockey was just the most visible symbol of a kind of Canada that is fast disappearing.” This was “a more rural, more traditional Canada, one in which . . . ‘old stock Canadians’ held sway. One, indeed, where lots more people wore poppies around Nov. 11.” This concedes Mr. Cherry’s point, but that’s easy to miss while gleefully claiming a scalp. Mr. Cherry described his politics in a 1990 interview as “Canada first and Canada only,” calling himself a nationalist. “Listen, you kid,” he said on “Coach’s Corner” long ago, “don’t get caught in the Canadian syndrome, where if it’s Canadian it’s got to be bad. We’re the best.” He insisted that toughness and willingness to sacrifice, often measured roughly by a hockey team’s ratio of Canadians to Swedes, are the keys to winning. The Toronto Star cringes, but as Mr. Cherry explained three decades ago, “the people that drink the beer agree with me.” There’s still truth to that, but beer sales have been falling for years. Mr. Kaufman is an assistant editorial features editor at the Journal.