Ron MacLean issues apology after insensitive comment

·3 min read

As we await Ron MacLean's return to the Hockey Night in Canada desk, where he will presumably issue an apology for his homophobic, or at the very least insensitive, attempt at humour during Tuesday night's broadcast of Game 4 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, the long-time host has apparently showed contrition through other means. 

CBC's Devin Heroux is reporting that You Can Play, an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, received an apology from MacLean on Wednesday morning. You Can Play's vice-chair, David Palumbo, spoke directly with MacLean, who "took ownership" of the remarks.

"I take him at his word. I've always known Ron to be a staunch ally when it comes to his historic support of the LGBTQ+ community. It was a good conversation," Palumbo said. "To his credit he reached out and took full ownership of what he said and that interaction. He provided some extra context to the comment and what was behind the comment.

"We then discussed the concept of language outside of two-way communication and between two parties and how that can be interpreted outside of the parties."

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 01:  Sportscaster Ron MacLean announces the Top 33 of 100 NHL players before the start of the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic to be played between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Exhibition Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 01: Sportscaster Ron MacLean announces the Top 33 of 100 NHL players before the start of the 2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic to be played between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Exhibition Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

MacLean made the clearly offensive and half-baked remark in the second intermission of the nationally-televised broadcast reaching all corners of the country, referencing a picture of three shirtless individuals — including both a colleague and an active player being covered by the broadcast — on a shelf behind panelist Kevin Bieksa.

Presumably trying to keep with the good-natured ribbing between the two, MacLean missed the mark entirely, responding: "You have a photo of a guy with his tarp off, you're definitely positive for something."

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The reaction was immediate and widespread on social media, with many rightfully taking issue with MacLean's comments. 

That conversation only intensified Wednesday, as MacLean remained quiet publicly. But he has since released a statement, claiming that the situation was a misunderstanding, and that he was referencing the rum, or alcohol, in the photo when suggesting someone would "test positive."

Here's his full explanation and apology:

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We can probably expect a follow-up on Wednesday's broadcast.

This is not the first time an insensitive or off-base comment or conversation has involved MacLean. The long-time Hockey Night host played a significant role in the on-air conversation that led to Don Cherry's departure from the program 18 months ago.

MacLean opened his following broadcast with a lengthy apology, showing contrition for his role in Cherry's targeted criticism of Canadian immigrants.

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