Tag: Ron MacLean

Don and Ron

Cherry defends MacLean’s 9/11 remarks: “We think hockey players are the top people in the world”


In the wake of criticism over Ron MacLean’s 9/11 remarks — and MacLean’s subsequent clarification — Don Cherry has jumped to the defense of his longtime broadcast partner.

“I couldn’t believe it when the boss came in during the end of the second period and said people were upset,” Cherry told The Canadian Press on Thursday. “I think what happens is people don’t think as much of hockey players as we love hockey players.

“We think hockey players are the top people in the world. We think they’re tough, that’s all Ron was doing. For people to take it out of context is just unbelievable to me.”

MacLean made the 9/11 reference during the intro of Wednesday night’s Rangers-Capitals Game 6. Here’s the transcript:

“From the capital of the U.S. of A., it’s New York and Washington. The economic and political engines of America, united in the birth of the country, they’re also linked in tragedy. They were the twin targets of the coordinated attacks on 9/11. It’s crazy to compare what the emergency responders did during that time, but a spirit has to start somewhere.

…You can’t help but be struck by the players and the way they’ve played these games. They are like police officers, they are like firefighters. You can’t fight fire with ego

…The pain these men have faced, the price they keep on paying, the hearts they keep on lifting.

…We all know about the firefighters. Our worst day is their every day.”

After receiving great scorn on various social media platforms (which is weird, because social media is usually so opinion free), MacLean issued a statement not of apology, but clarification.

He then followed that statement up with more clarification to the CP:

“I think where I got caught was making the statements about 9/11, quickly saying it would be crazy to compare the work done by the first responders during that time, then I made the point still a spirit has to start somewhere. Then as they moved inside the arena I made the point watching the players in this series, I can’t help but think they are like police officers or firefighters.

“And then we cut to our first shot of a player and it was Brad Richards — a dear friend of mine — sitting there putting on his socks sort of looking laissez-faire, and I think the image of Brad looking almost disinterested coupled with the gravity of what I was talking about just cut a terrible image.”

Anyway, I think we can all agree the moral of the story is this wasn’t MacLean’s fault, and that Brad Richards needs to put on his socks more passionately.

Canadian teams are apparently upset with CBC

Don Cherry

Things aren’t all happy north of the border for executives of the Canadian teams when it comes to getting on CBC.

We’ve heard all about Brian Burke’s scuffling with Don Cherry, but according to Bruce Dowbiggin of The Globe And Mail, the Leafs aren’t the only one’s upset with Cherry and Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean. Dowbiggin explains what happened after a CBC presentation to the Board of Governors during the All-Star Game.

Following CBC’s annual presentation to the NHL board in Ottawa, Burke delivered a blistering critique of the program’s treatment of him and then-coach Ron Wilson. Other Canadian teams, including the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators, blasted the network for the Toronto-centric nature of the program and complained about deteriorating journalistic standards.

It wasn’t just Don Cherry that had team executives upset, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk sounded off about how much coverage the Maple Leafs get on Hockey Night in Canada. Melnyk spoke… Creatively about who he was referring to.

“My issue dealt with the number of games shown on HNIC that are not Sens games and my concern about how skewed they are to another team that you can easily deduce. … I wasn’t given any concrete response.”

The Leafs bring the ratings whether they’re good or bad. When they’re good, Leafs fans tune in in droves. When they’re bad, Leafs haters come out of the woodwork. Either way, people are tuning in but according to Dowbiggin’s story, fans are tuning out when it’s time for Cherry’s segment. Are the times changing north of the border?

Burke also targets Cherry’s co-host MacLean

Ron MacLean - Hockey Night In Canada

Don Cherry isn’t just angry at Leafs GM Brian Burke for the lack of Ontario-born players on the Toronto Maple Leafs and his biggest problem with Burke might not even be the fact that he complained to Cherry’s superiors about Grapes. What might have pissed Cherry off the most is that Burke decided to also target his co-host and old friend Ron MacLean.

What’s Burke’s problem with MacLean? Apparently, in MacLean’s words, Burke “feels that I egg Grapes on.”

MacLean said that Burke went to his superiors, but he thinks Burke was trying to get them “muzzled” rather than fired. To make the situation even more bizarre, Burke decided to call MacLean up before lodging his complaint.

“He said ‘I am feeling kind of lousy doing it this way without talking to you first,’” MacLean said, referring to Burke. The Leafs GM gave MacLean the opportunity to meet with him, but MacLean turned down the offer. He also told Burke that his job was not to present the audience with “all rainbows.”

“I am not losing any sleep over it,” said MacLean. “I understand Brian is under a lot of pressure and he treats each day like it’s a hockey game. A general manager of such a major professional sports franchise should be able to handle it but it’s the way he is.”

MacLean also said that he forgives Burke. Cherry, on the other hand, might not be ready to put this all behind him.

Watch CBC’s Ron MacLean apologize to Alex Burrows

Ron MacLean - Hockey Night In Canada

Kind of a surreal moment on Hockey Night in Canada yesterday when host Ron MacLean spent roughly two minutes apologizing to Vancouver winger Alex Burrows.

For those that missed it, here’s the video:

Burrows and MacLean have had a contentious relationship dating back to last year, stemming from the Burrows-Stephane Auger incident. MacLean was roundly criticized (primarily by Vancouverites) for his anti-Burrows stance on the matter, some of which is displayed here:

Then, on last week’s episode of Coach’s Corner, the topic of MacLean’s *alleged* dislike of Burrows came up again. This time it was Don Cherry insinuating the host had a problem with the Canucks winger allegedly opening the bench gate door when Ottawa’s Jesse Winchester was hit by Maxim Lapierre:

(FF to the 1:54 mark)

The real smoking gun was this exchange:

Cherry: I know you don’t like Burrows and I know you have a history with him.
MacLean: I don’t even know about this.
Cherry: You said he opened the gate on purpose.
MacLean: No, no that’s what they say on the show.
Cherry: Ya, ya they said, and I’m saying, I know you don’t…
MacLean: But I don’t know if he did it, I haven’t seen it.
Cherry: What do you mean you didn’t see it? You wanted me to show it.
MacLean: I didn’t see it when it happened. No, no I’m just saying…
Cherry: Anyhow, yes you did, you have a history with Burrows.

MacLean issued his apology prior to the Canucks-Leafs game…and Burrows proceeded to notch two points and earn first star honors in a 5-3 win.

“I just felt good, and confident and I felt like I could make plays,” Burrows said following the game. “We had so time in their zone, especially early when we weren’t scoring. I was sniffing for tips and rebounds, and when I feel like that, you know it’s going to come sooner or later.

“I know the (HNIC) has their opinions and I know they have a job to do. If they feel some nights I’m wrong, they have to say it. It’s never affected me. But it has affected my parents, a little bit more, and the people who know me.”

The line of the night, though, came from Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault.

“I really liked Henk’s line, and especially the way Alex played tonight,” he said. “I think he had something to prove to Ron MacLean.

“I’m just kidding about that. We don’t care about Ron.”

After Cherry apology, Grimson turns his attention to Ron MacLean

Ron MacLean - Hockey Night In Canada

Stu Grimson forgives Don Cherry. However, he still has a problem with CBC host Ron MacLean.

Following is the statement Grimson released after Cherry apologized on Saturday night to former enforcers Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson for calling them “pukes” and distorting their opinions on fighting in a previous episode of Coach’s Corner:

“I saw Don Cherry’s comments on Saturday night and I need to make just a few points as this matter comes to a close. First, I appreciate the words Mr. Cherry used; I accept his apology. As far as I’m concerned, this disagreement is now settled as between Mr. Cherry and me.

“Second, there has been widespread speculation about whether our group will seek legal recourse as a result of Mr. Cherry’s comments. We believed it was prudent to consider that path initially, given the words that Mr. Cherry used on a national broadcast to describe us. Having said that, I want to make clear that I have no present intention of pursuing a cause of action against Mr. Cherry.

“Third, in spite of my earlier comments on this matter, Ron MacLean appears to be missing the point, even at this late date. Mr. MacLean is presently saying at least two things on this issue. ‘We got bad information from another former player … I didn’t see any trouble with what Don said.’

“Look, Don got his facts wrong. That’s fine; he apologized for it and the matter is settled. But the bigger issue remains. This isn’t about the accuracy of the information. This isn’t about whether Mr. Cherry should have checked his facts. This isn’t about whether Stu Grimson is against fighting or for it. This is about the words Mr. Cherry chose and the way he chose to express them.

“And let’s not forget the context; Ron & Don waded into a very sensitive prominent discussion about the recent tragic deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and my friend, Wade Belak. These are three men that battled the demons and they lost. In offering his opinion on this issue, Mr. Cherry targeted two other men who played this same role and who battle some of these same demons. Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson.

“My point is this. You cannot stand on the highest mountaintop in the country —Hockey Night in Canada—and point your finger at these men and shout down to the Nation that you believe they’re ‘pukes, turncoats and hypocrites’ simply because they have a different point of view than you. You cannot use that platform to target anyone in that way — and especially not men who are battling to get their lives back on track. You cannot shout those names at these men with that kind of fury and expect not to answer for it. I believe this is why the response to Mr. Cherry’s comments has been as strong as it has.

“Mr. MacLean: it’s about the rage, the vitriol, in the public discourse. It’s wrong as a legal matter; it’s wrong as a matter of common civility.

“Lastly, it’s not my decision where this goes from here. This is a decision for Canadians. The CBC is your network; you pay for it. And you hold the network to certain standards and values. Among those values is the obligation to ‘treat individuals with honesty and respect.’

“Some viewers might actually believe that Ron & Don treated these men with honesty and respect. Those people might be content to just shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Hey, no big deal, that’s just Don being Don.” And that’s fine. Those people are entitled to that point of view.

“But other viewers might believe that Ron & Don fell way short of those values. And if that’s the case, I would encourage those people to direct their comments to the CBC. Please, don’t call or email me anymore; it’s not important that I know how you feel. Tell your ombudsman at the CBC how you feel. He’s a very nice man and he’s there to maintain the integrity of the CBC as an institution for broadcasting.”

While Cherry has been the focal point (obviously) in this whole affair, MacLean hasn’t escaped scrutiny, especially up in Canada. He’s been characterized by some as Cherry’s lapdog, scared he’ll lose his meal ticket should the backlash against Cherry build to the point where the CBC has to make a drastic move.

We’ll have to see if MacLean gets some time to state his position on next week’s Coach’s Corner, which must be getting great ratings with all this publicity. It’s almost like that’s the point of having a controversial guy like Grapes giving his opinions.