As a former NHL player and guest on Coach & # 39; s Corner Terry Ryan finds it difficult to reconcile the damaging comments of Don Cherry in public, with the man he knows as a mentor and hockey icon in private.
"I think it needs context. I don't agree with what he said," Ryan says.
"I do not agree with what he said, but he is not a monster."
Cherry came under fire for comments made during a Coach & # 39; s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada on November 9, which many considered critical for immigrants for not to have poppy reminder.
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While Cherry would later say he regrets his choice of words – with the phrase "you people" rather than saying "everyone" – Ryan wished Cherry had apologized sooner.
"Most of us are in the middle and we are injured," Ryan said.  "This is a legend. This is someone we love. Many of us grew up and took Don Cherry to his words and loved him. He is Canada. He is part of our Canadian being."
Ryan said that a memory that came to mind amid controversy was back in one of his first matches in Montreal for the Canadiens, when Cherry took him aside for a chat.
The dressing room "oddball" and jokester, Ryan said he was known for trying to make his teammates laugh in an attempt to unite them as a team.
Ryan remembers that Cherry told him to use these qualities for good.
"Don Cherry called me aside and said our game is undergoing a change … there are far more minorities in the game than there ever have been, there are a lot more Europeans than there have been, there are guys in your teams that don't know English that well, "Ryan said.
"He said you have to be there for them and hockey becomes more united as time goes on."
The cherry he met in that context, Ryan said, does not fit with the corrupted person he sees on social media.
"He has always been a sweet man to me."
"He sees things from another side of the fence a lot. The context of this is that he's a sweet guy, he's really nice to me and invited me into his home before, and I've never seen this monster that Many people think he is. "
" He has lived in a box & # 39;
In an interview with CBC's Here & Now Ryan emphasized that he in no way agrees with Cherry's comments, but he questions the severity of the setback and whether it is a useful strategy for a necessary conversation.
Ryan said that social media platforms like Twitter give anyone an opinion, especially on controversial topics such as the Cherry shooting, but the context is sometimes lost.
"That's right enough, but opinions, you would hope, would come from [those] educated in the profession," Ryan said.
"Don, he's 85 years old. For 20 or 30 years he has been cleared, he lived in a box. "
When Coach's Corner segment aired, Ryan said that his immediate question was why it passed muster in the first place.
"I've been to these studios, I've been to Hockey Night in Canada and the first thing that came into my head was that it is the only part I know the band is late – because the rest of it is a live game, "Ryan said.
" He said it – it came out of his mouth – but there are many things that people don't talking again as part of the healthy conversation. "
Ryan also comes in defense of a friend and Coach's Corner hosted Ron MacLean who has also caught fire online for not acting at the moment to shut down Cherry or disprove his comments
Ryan believes that MacLean went into that moment, the segment may have gotten worse.
"They went into a segment shortly after about the Grapes and the veterans and it was a very sentimental, very emotional piece, and Ron knew it," Ryan said.  "Ron has a thing in his ear and he tries to listen to what he has to do and he has 20 seconds, 15, 10, he can't really issue a rejection at that time, he can't really come up with anything that contradicts the very structure of what Don & # 39; s saying – and it would have a boon cleared something. … It may have worsened just before the next segment. "
Ryan said he hopes the conversation will continue in a constructive way, rather than in extreme online comments.
"I just think we need to have a healthy conversation," he said, adding that he himself will continue the conversation on his podcast, Third Man In .  Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador