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The Grapes of Wrath: Don Cherry Leaves Hockey Night in Canada for Crossfire on CNN

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Above: Don Cherry is abandoning his politically incorrect hockey schtick in favour of violently partisan political discourse

ATLANTA, Ga. (SP) - Legendary hockey analyst Don Cherry has decided to forsake his home and native land in favour of the home of the Braves. Cherry created a whirlwind of controversy when he stated that European and French Canadian hockey players were "turning into sucks" by wearing visors to protect their eyes from errant sticks. The CBC characterized Cherry's remarked as "inappropriate and reprehensive", and announced that all future installments of Coach's Corner would be placed on a seven second delay to ensure that the network did not air similarly offensive remarks in the future. Rather than be subjected to this sort of network-imposed censorship, Cherry has tendered his resignation from CBC's Hockey Night in Canada in order to become a co-host on Crossfire, CNN's popular political talk show.

Many were surprised by the move, given that Cherry has virtually no experience as a political commentator. However, CNN News Group President Jim Walton explained that Cherry was exactly the sort of fiery on-air personality that the network was looking for. "A show like Crossfire is more about entertainment than hard news - How else do you explain the fact that Dennis Miller has a prime time political talk show on CNBC? - and Don is the consummate entertainer," said Walton. "The reality is that Crossfire's audience would rather see the panelists yell at each other than engage in civilized political discourse, and Don has proven that he can yell with the best of them."

Walton also thinks that Cherry will do a good job representing the far right end of the political spectrum. "Don has always spoken out strongly in favour of gratuitous violence, which is very consistent with American foreign policy under the Bush administration," he said. "Moreover, he is very pro-military and anti-immigration, just as you would expect from any card-carrying Republican."

Above: Cherry's array of outrageous neck ties is expected to complement co-host Tucker Carlson's bevy of brightly coloured bow ties

Walton does not believe that most Americans would be bothered to know that Cherry recently made disparaging remarks about European and French hockey players. "Given that the war in Iraq wasn't supported by most of Europe, these days most Americans don't have a very high opinion of Europeans generally and the French in particular," said Walton. "Any controversy caused by such comments would disappear faster than a side order of freedom fries in the Atkins household."

Cherry will still be able to get in his two cents about the world of hockey, as CNN has also named him its Senior Hockey Analyst. Each week, he will appear on Final Edition with Wolf Blitzer to provide his hockey commentaries, with Blitzer serving as Cherry's hapless, soft spoken straight man, a role previously occupied by Ron MacLean.

CBC wasted little time filling the huge hole created by Cherry's departure by hiring controversial American talk radio host Rush Limbaugh as his replacement, in a segment to be called "Rush's Corner". In contrast to Cherry, Limbaugh has extensive experience as a political analyst, but very little experience as a sports commentator. Last fall, he did work very briefly as a football analyst for ESPN before being asked to leave due to objections over some of his colour commentary. However, he should have no problem generating the sort of controversy that helped Cherry deliver consistently high ratings.

Above: Nationally syndicated talk show host Rush Limbaugh does have some experience as a "colour" commentator on ESPN

At the press conference held to announce his hiring, Limbaugh almost immediately offended the entire province of Quebec by suggesting that Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore, a former Vezina and Hart trophy winner, was overrated. He claimed that Theodore had been afforded preferential treatment by both the NHL and the Quebec media because they had a vested interest in seeing a Quebec-born player succeed in Montreal.

Immediately after the press conference, Dyane Adam, Canada's Official Languages Commissioner, announced that she would be conducting an investigation into Limbaugh's remarks. The CBC refused to comment pending the outcome of the investigation, but announced that it would be instituting a seven-minute tape delay during Rush's Corner in order to be able to preempt the entire segment with beer commercials if necessary.

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