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Ron MacLean apologizes for perceived homophobic comment on Hockey Night in Canada

Last Updated May 26, 2021 at 4:20 pm PDT

Ron MacLean is the host of Hockey Night in Canada and Rogers Hometown Hockey. Sportsnet

“Hockey Night in Canada” host Ron MacLean is apologizing for a comment he made during an NHL playoff game on Tuesday night.

MacLean says in a statement he is “deeply sorry” and that he regrets the moment.


MacLean says earlier in the show they had a fun moment with a photograph of Sportsnet analyst Anthony Stewart enjoying a rum party.

That photo was on a shelf in the background of analyst and former NHL defenceman Kevin Bieksa’s set for the rest of the night.

During an intermission segment as part of a Sportsnet television broadcast of a Toronto Maple Leafs-Montreal Canadiens game, Bieksa said he was the most positive member of the four-person panel that also featured MacLean, Jennifer Botterill and Kelly Hrudey.

Appearing to make a joke in response to Bieksa, MacLean said: “You have a photo of a guy with his tarp off, you’re definitely positive for something.”

The comment appeared to catch Botterill off guard, who can be seen wincing as MacLean throws to commercial.

Many social media users perceived the comment to be homophobic, with some calling on MacLean to be fired.

“First and foremost, I regret and apologize for what happened last night,” MacLean said in his statement.

“… If you only heard that last line in isolation, I completely understand how that misunderstanding occurred. I am deeply sorry. The idea of language intention, of personal responsibility, I have seen those concepts used as broad exoneration. It’s not enough.”

MacLean says he’s reached out to “several guiding lights in the equity-seeking arena” and allies in the LGBTQ2S+ community, as well as coworkers, “to receive their wisdom.”

“I appreciate the power of the voices who spoke to me last night and this morning. It provides a sense of responsibility. It’s how change works.”

MacLean’s former longtime Hockey Night in Canada and Coach’s Corner co-host, Don Cherry, was fired by Sportsnet in November 2019 for comments that were perceived to suggest Canadian immigrants profit from the sacrifices of veterans but do not wear Remembrance Day poppies.

MacLean later apologized via Twitter and later on-air, stating regret for his actions and for allowing Cherry to make the comments.

“Don Cherry made remarks which were hurtful, discriminatory, which were flat out wrong. We at Sportsnet have apologized. It certainly doesn’t stand for what Sportsnet or Rogers represents,” said McLean in 2019.

“We know diversity is the strength of the country. We see it in travels with our show (Hometown Hockey) and with Hockey Night in Canada. I owe you an apology, too: that’s the big thing I want to emphasize. I sat there, did not catch it, did not respond.”

MacLean is also the host for Rogers Hometown Hockey.

Rogers is the parent owner of this radio station.

With files from The Canadian Press