For those of you who missed it last night, yesterday’s Hockey Night in Canada kicked off with Ron MacLean loosely comparing hockey players to the first responding firefighters and police of 9/11. Needless to say, it didn’t go over very well with those people cognizant of the fact that one group saved and lost lives, the other gets paid a boatload of money to play a game.

Here’s the video:

As I said on today’s Backhand Shelf Podcast, it was only a matter of time until MacLean issued an apology.

Instead, it turns out, Ron MacLean and CBC issued…a “statement.” It’s basically just MacLean reiterating his point.

Ron and CBC would like to clarify what may have been misunderstood by his comments.

“Washington and New York.  The two cities united by the tragedy of 9/11. I, like everyone on the planet in his or her lifetime, saw beyond the horror, the single greatest testament to the strength of the human spirit in the efforts of the first responders”, says Ron Maclean.

“We never know if we’ll have that spirit. The bravery, the resilience. As I made clear, the hockey games in no way compare. However Sports has proven a worthy training ground in nurturing the qualities which beget that spirit. To say he plays like a firefighter or a policeman would instantly conjure the traits an athlete most desires, especially in New York and Washington. There could be no higher praise of a player, no greater choice of a role model .

But as I said of first responders, ‘Our worst day is their everyday’. They stand alone.”

Yes, it’s “high praise.” It’s too high. It devalues the other side, Ron.

I think I get what he’s trying to say with the ”worthy training ground in nurturing the qualities which beget that spirit” bit. I think. I just can’t fathom that someone with as much experience as him, and with as much respect for the people who serve their country as he has, can possibly think the original analogy was fair, or that backing it up without the word “apology” or “sorry” is alright.

And honestly, as someone who played hockey for a living, I would have been embarrassed to have that comparison made about me. Those guys know they aren’t on that level. Blocking shots is “gutsy.” Risking your life to save others is brave.

I’m a big fan of MacLean‘s, but he stumbled on this one. Anytime the thought “I should compare ___ to 9/11″ pops in your head, it’s probably safe to disregard that idea and move on.


UPDATE: Ron MacLean spoke on HNIC Radio today about his 9/11 comments. If I haven’t mentioned this yet, Ron’s a genuine guy whom I have a ton of respect for:

Comments (14)

  1. Seemed like he was reaching with the whole analogy — just unnecessary, overall. Lots of other hooks he could have latched onto for a promo commentary.

  2. In my opinion, you called that right on the button, Justin … I, too, like Ron McLean, but he went way over the top on his opening before sliding down the other side, circling around and kicking dirt over his tracks. Perhaps his lapse in judgment stems from sitting in too close proximity all these years to that microwave of crazy in the weird clothes next to him.

  3. In these playoffs, the better “he plays like a policeman” analogy would be Rodney King, not 9/11.

  4. Idiotic, offensive comment deleted by editor

  5. I just don’t get the big deal here guys.
    He says: “It’s crazy to compare what the first responders did that day.”
    –Right there he says we can’t compare NHLers to those that walked into the burning buildings. So why are we discussing it? Just because Twitter tells us too?
    He goes on…”but the spirit has to start somewhere.”
    –Again he belittles the NHLers by saying that the heroic spirit may be present in blocking a slap shot, but it still isn’t fully grown (fully equal to 9/11 responders).
    Then…”They are like firefighters, you can’t fight fire with ego.”
    He’s only emphasizing the team work and humility needed in 7-game NHL series. He picked one aspect out (not having ego). He didn’t compare the NHLers to putting their lives on the line at work.
    Really, where’s the issue? People just heard 9/11 and assumed the worst without actually listening to what he was saying. This is the time when Twitter sucks.

    • “People just heard 9/11 and assumed the worst without actually listening to what he was saying.”

      This right here…

      • I agree that he didn’t say anything particularly awful, I just think that in his line of work, you should have the common sense to avoid the touchy stuff. Sports/actual-life comparisons are hard enough in the first place.

        • Basically, puck-heads like Maclean and Cherry need to realize that, just because in this country we like to act like hockey is bigger than life, it isn’t. Hockey is just hockey.

  6. so basically… Ron MacClean is Hitler? I’m just going there now so we can get it all out with Internet….

  7. That… wasn’t anywhere as bad as I was expecting. In think you guys took it the wrong way.

  8. Ron McLean owea no apology, or statement.
    His critics should lighten up and concern themselves with the important issues in life.

  9. Of course his clarification wasn’t an apology – there’s no injured party, and therefore to no one to whom he should apologize.

    Just because some choose to be offended by a silly analogy doesn’t mean they deserve an apology.

  10. Ron Maclean?

    I haven’t payed any attention to him since that Hockey Day Coaches Corner episode where Ron and Don re-enacted a conversation amongst fur traders, or something.

    I do recall him having a habit of making extremely awkward analogies, and issuing glib “apologies”. The trend seems to continue here.

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