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Ron MacLean pulls a Don Cherry, compares hockey players to 9/11 first responders

Commentator Ron MacLean is drawing controversy for comparing the hockey players in the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals playoff series to the firefighters and police officers who responded to the 9/11 disaster.

Viewers of "Hockey Night In Canada" are no stranger to odd, sometimes controversial comments. But most of the time they come from long-time hockey commentator Don Cherry and not the straight-laced, mild-mannered Ron MacLean.

The offending gaffe came during MacLean's introduction to Game 6, which began with a rambling statement about New York and Washington's shared 9/11 history.

"It's crazy to compare what the emergency responders did during that time, but a spirit has to start somewhere," he said.

"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," he continued.

Needless to say, MacLean didn't get a free pass with many on Twitter getting their jabs in.

"Geez Ron MacLean, who knew skating after a black rubber object was as important as saving lives on 9/11," posted twitter user @habs_junkie.

Twitter user @wzzntzz put it more succinctly. "he smoke a Don Cherry tie?"


Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean released a statement clarifying his reference to the U.S. terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 before an NHL playoff game on Wednesday.

"Washington and New York. The two cities united by the tragedy of 9/11," said MacLean. "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.

"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."

Before the start of Game 6 between the New York Rangers and host Washington Capitals, MacLean said the two cities were linked by the tragedy.

"They were the twin targets of the coordinated attacks on 9/11. It's crazy to compare what the emergency respondents did at that time."

MacLean, however, might have crossed that very line by drawing similarities between what emergency personnel went through on that day and what NHLers go through during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"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," MacLean said. "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."
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Tags: canadian celebrities, sports / athletes - hockey
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