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Don Cherry defends Coach's Corner colleague Ron MacLean 0

QMI Agency

Ron MacLean and Don Cherry take Coach's Corner on the road as the Peterborough Petes host the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER/QMI AGENCY)

Ron MacLean and Don Cherry take Coach's Corner on the road as the Peterborough Petes host the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. (CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER/QMI AGENCY)

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In a strange and rare role reversal, Don Cherry felt he needed to jump to the defence of his Coach’s Corner partner, Ron MacLean.

Cherry, who is more often defended by MacLean after a controversial comment on the Hockey Night in Canada intermission segment, took to his official Twitter account Friday to back up his sidekick.

“I read in the paper where Ron MacLean was supposed to have said the Quebec referee doing the Montreal-Tampa Bay game was not qualified,” Cherry said. “He did not say that at all. Check it out. In actual fact, he was trying to protect the ref.”

Earlier this week, MacLean drew plenty of heat from Quebecers -- in the media and social media websites -- for suggesting the NHL should not have assigned a French referee to work Game 4 of the Montreal Canadiens-Tampa Bay Lightning playoff series. Francis Charron, of Gatineau. Que., worked the series-deciding game alongside Paul Devorski.

MacLean apologized for the comment, which was considered anti-French by many, later Tuesday night on the CBC broadcast, saying it is “divisive any time you become about French and English in our country,” but it wasn’t enough to quiet his critics.

In defending MacLean, Cherry posted a six-part tweet Friday to back up MacLean.

“It is ironic that Ron MacLean would be perceived as Anti-French when in reality he loves Quebec. He speaks french, loves multiculturalism, bilingualism and all that stuff and refers to Quebec as 'La Belle Province' and always shows Montreal at it’s best in the opening of our shows.

“Life is strange. I remember a coach saying after a game in Toronto, when a referee from Toronto refereed the game, he said and I quote 'No way a referee from Toronto should referee a game with the Toronto Maple Leafs.' You know what happened? Nothing. You know why? Nobody cared.”

Cherry is no stranger to controversy himself, usually over comments made about European-born players or his pro-fighting stance.

Here are Cherry's MacLean-related tweets from Friday:

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Did Ron MacLean cross the line with his remarks?

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