Grapes, delayed


OTTAWA - CBC's lead live hockey commentator, Don Cherry, will now be subject to a seven-second delay, thanks to his most recent rant against NHL stick infractions - and who commits them, and visors - and who wears them.

After letting the furor bubble to a raging boil for the better part of two weeks (actually Cherry has been dropping verbal bombs on European and French hockey players and people for the better part of two decades with no resulting Corporate rebukes), the CBC announced on Friday it was taking action on Coach's Corner, the popular first intermission program during Hockey Night in Canada where the former NHL coach holds court with his "straight man" Ron MacLean.

During the January 24th telecast, Cherry railed against visors and stick infractions, seeming to dismiss those who wear the eye protection as "sucks" and said those who wear them are usually "Europeans and French guys". It's not clear from the broadcast whether he also meant that Europeans and French guys were also most responsible for the stick incidents.

"Mr. Cherry has been an important part of the Canadian hockey scene as a player, coach and commentator over the past five decades. Fans across the country have tuned into Hockey Night in Canada's Coach's Corner for over 20 years because of his insights and understanding of the game," reads the statement issued by CBC Television's executive vice-president, Harold Redekopp.

"Mr. Cherry's role on Coach's Corner is, and has always been, as a hockey commentator. However, during the January 24th show he unacceptably stepped beyond that role by expressing an inappropriate and reprehensible personal opinion as part of his discussion about the use of visors.

"CBC Television categorically rejects and denounces the personal opinions Mr. Cherry expressed during the segment. Comments such as those expressed during the show cannot be repeated and will not be tolerated," it continues.

"CBC Television must manage its airwaves responsibly. In order to do this, CBC Sports will broadcast Coach's Corner on a seven-second delay. This practice is common on many live broadcasts and is in effect immediately.

"Additionally, CBC Sports management have reviewed the January 24th broadcast with Mr. Cherry, and have his assurances that comments of this nature will not be repeated," it concludes.

The Corp. did not say which poor producer will hold their twitchy finger over the bleeping button or whether it will censure other programs that might offend someone.

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