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

May 11, 2012, 11:19 AM EDT

Don and Ron

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.

  1. fullbagg - May 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    Sheriiff should be fired for that suit alone…. :p

  2. jerseypatriot76 - May 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    I think the moral of the story should be that any first responder can be a hockey player, but not every hockey player can be a first responder.

  3. pkswally024 - May 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Comparing the work of hockey players to that of first responders or any responders that were there through out is completely ridiculous.

  4. govtminion - May 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    So we can all agree now that Brad Richards is a horrible person for this? Glad we averted a potential disaster at TSN.

  5. hiltonandastoria - May 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Good, honest and classy people having to explain themselves to the scumbag media and idiots looking to nitpick is sad sad stuff.

    To hell with those crying, Ron has done more for Cops and Firefighters than all you combined.

    • bcisleman - May 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      I had a high school classmate who was fire marshall for his floor in the South Tower. He stayed behind to ensure the safety of others…and perished leaving behind a wife and two children who have grown up without him.

      I know what Ron was TRYING to say. Ken Morrow played in the 1983 SCF several days after knee surgery and continued playing when he could barely walk. It takes a special kind of person to do that.

      What Ron SHOULD have said was that, while he would NEVER compare the sacrifices hockey players make with those of the 9/11 victims, especially the first responders, he wanted to take note of the sacrifices hockey players make to get the Cup. He misspoke, but had a chance to set the record straight afterwards and really did not. That’s unfortunate as is Grapes’ statement.

      To sum up, sorry to “nitpick”, but Ken Morrow’s sacrifice, while praiseworthy on its own merits, does not begin to compare to my classmate’s sacrifice. And i suspect Ken would be the first to admit as much.

      • hiltonandastoria - May 11, 2012 at 2:39 PM

        Case in point, you KNOW what Ron meant, yet here you are nitpicking a good man who has STILL, DONE MORE FOR 1st RESPONDERS THAN YOU HAVE YOU ENTIRE LIFE.

        Oh you KNEW someone, and how much $ have you helped raise for Cops and Firefighters?

        Nothing is my guess, and if there if a quantifiable amount you have, it’s still 0.01% compared to what Ron has helped bring in for 1st responders.

        Shut up
        You have’t DONE anything to be in a position to judge

      • comeonnowguys - May 11, 2012 at 3:44 PM


        And yet you bristle and judge someone who tried to–rather diplomatically–offer a counterpoint.

        Actual words still mean something. With a subject like this, it’s just better to leave it alone, the high risk of it coming off wrong is not with whatever artistic license you’re trying to pull off.

      • bcisleman - May 11, 2012 at 4:59 PM

        hiltonandastoria: You are a total lowlife. Were you there the day after to look in firemens’ eyes as I was? Did you smell the smell of death as I did? Did you look in the eyes of a student who lost his father as I did? Diid you lose a friend as I did? I think we both know that the answers to those questions is no. You have not earned the right to talk at all. Do the world a favor and crawl back in the deep dark hole you came out of. Do it a bigger favor by staying there.

        And I am not nitpicking. Ron may be a good man but he had a chance to clarify that he did not intend to equate what hockey players do with 9/11 victims and first responders and did not. That is simply unacceptable.

      • bcisleman - May 11, 2012 at 9:32 PM

        I should have said that I THINK I know what Ron was trying to say and that’s the rub. His comments and Grapes’ both suggest some equation between the responders / 9/11 victims and hockey players. I HOPE that is not what is intended.

  6. pavelfitzgerald - May 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    @ TSN? Rob McLean has always been on CBC .. .

    • govtminion - May 11, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      Whoops- sorry, that’s my bad. I don’t get either here in D.C. , so in my head they’re just kind of lumped together as ‘those networks that show all the games I want to see instead of the Capitals’.

  7. deathmonkey41 - May 11, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    I’m more offended by his suit than his statement.

  8. taytay099 - May 11, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Some people need a thicker skin. As if his 9/11 reference was an attack on anyone.

  9. atwatercrushesokoye - May 11, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    I really don’t see the need for the comparison at all between millionaire athletes (don’t get me wrong, I love to watch them do their thing) and first responders in general. I wasn’t offended by it but it was just a poor analogy and rather than saying that and taking ownership of it McLean decided to blame the fact that the pictures being shown weren’t what he expected. Nothing was going to make that comparison a great one, so just apologize and let it go.

    I will say this incident, and hearing McLean defend himself on Prime Time Sports, has done nothing to dispel my belief that McLean has become way too pompous. Whether it’s his once a year ambush interview that he like to do, or his overuse of the phrase “our game” to describe what happens in the NHL or his constant need to try and show how smart he is by being witty (such as this incident) I believe that he’s warranted the opportunity to be replaced by someone more in touch with reality.

  10. steelpenguin71 - May 11, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    How about just an apology? If he didn’t intend to offend Americans and victims families of 9/11 then why not just apologize? If Don Cherry is defending your comments you might want to rethink what you say.

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