Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ron MacLean tries too hard. Again.

One of the fundamental differences between Don Cherry and his Coach's Corner sidekick, Ron MacLean, is that when Cherry says something outrageous, it's usually calculated.  Cherry is many things, but stupid is not one of them.  MacLean, on the other hand, has an earnest naivete that sometimes manifests itself in misguided attempts at being profound.  His suggestion Saturday night that the involvement of  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Rogers CEO Nadir Mohamed in a multi-billion dollar television deal was a glowing example of how Jews and Muslims can get along was next-level cringeworthy, and proof enough that MacLean didn't learn his lesson from the time he clumsily compared hockey players to first responders in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  MacLean is a solid hockey broadcaster, but he'd do well to leave the global geopolitical punditry to the experts.

On the surface, at least, the concussion lawsuit filed by former NHL players is a transparent attempt to piggyback on the success of their retired football counterparts, who got a 765 million dollar out of court settlement after suing the NFL.   There are, however, significant factors that point to this looming battle taking a different path.  The NFL didn't admit culpability as much as it paid its former players what was tantamount to a nuisance fee when the settlement is taken in the context of current and projected NFL revenue, which is about five times what the NHL generates.  Also, if Gary Bettman's labor relations history is anything to go by, the NHL commissioner will practically delight in a protracted court battle aimed at wearing down his adversaries psychologically and financially.  The former NHLers might eventually get a settlement, but it's not likely to be nearly as easy nor as lucrative as the NFL payout.
I was willing to give Winnipeg Jets winger Evander Kane a pass when he posted a picture of himself flashing wads of cash in Las Vegas because it had context, but Kane crossed a line when he Instagramed himself getting handcuffed by a New York City police officer against the side of a patrol car.  There's unavoidable symbolism in the image, and the smile on Kane's face makes light of an ongoing social stigma facing young black men who are too often assumed to be suspect because they're young and black.  Someone needs to have a talk with Kane, and the smirking police officer in the picture could benefit from a few days off without pay.
It occurs to me on a semi-regular basis that if sports teams and leagues want to get around the all too frequent butchering of pre-game national anthems, they should have a policy of playing recorded versions if they can't hire polished  professionals.  I'm not talking BeyoncĂ© or Placido Domingo, but a guy like Canadiens anthem singer Charles Prevost Linton, who has solid professional chops and can get through both anthems - one bilingually - without kicking it around the block like the dingbat on Long Island or the dope in Lethbridge, Alberta this past week.  Better still, just play the damn thing on the organ and let the fans take care of the singing, like the crowd did in spectacularly uplifting fashion at the Bell Center last night.  You get what you pay for - and sometimes what you don't pay for.


  1. He said what??? I clearly missed this, as I usually avoid watching HNIC in favor of RDS/TSN690.

  2. Couldn't agree more about MacLean. I suppose he's trying to make his chatter more cerebral, but I wince whenever he trots out examples as you cited above, or when he borrows song lyrics or lines from literature to make a point about hockey. Even his appropriate use of Flanders Field in relation to the Habs is cringeworthy.