A Canadian broadcaster attempted to clarify his remarks Thursday after invoking the 9/11 attacks and first responders prior to Game 6 between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals.
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Ron MacLean, the CBC studio host for "Hockey Night in Canada," appeared to make a comparison between the teams’ players and 9/11 first responders during the start of the network’s broadcast of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Wednesday night in Washington.
He opened by tying the cities together as 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."
MacLean then raised eyebrows by continuing, "It’s crazy to compare what the emergency responders did during that time, but a spirit has to start somewhere. And as you enjoy this series … 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. It’s been through and through, five games in."
He ended by saying "our worst day is [a firefighter’s] every day."
On Thursday, MacLean said his remarks may have been misunderstood. He said that he "made clear" on the broadcast that hockey games "in no way compare" to the heroism of 9/11 responders.
"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," MacLean said in a statement issued by CBC.
"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."
The 52-year-old MacLean has worked on "Hockey Night in Canada" since the mid-80s.