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.

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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: