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Ron MacLean on Canada’s ‘love affair’ with hockey | Canada is …

August 27, 2019


I’ve always said it’s a story of a love
affair. We don’t know why we feel so family when we watch Hockey Night in
Canada but we do feel like family and we do know that everyone in our family is
kind of joining us and doing the same thing. There’s just such a joy about the
simplicity with which it all began the joy the freedom of outdoor hockey. That
cold air in your lungs. That crazy sound that carving ice makes when you’re
skating on a pond or a river. It’s a magical setting. It’s a
complicated web to try and sort out where the game started, I’ve always said
Montreal’s the cradle of organized sport we know it’s a mix now of a lot of
great history in Windsor, Nova Scotia and Kingston, Ontario and the Northwest
Territories. I mean where else – Dawson City challenged for the Stanley Cup in
1905, Kenora won the Stanley Cup, population 6,000. Every time you hit the
outdoor ice you are in the footsteps of our history in the cup, and that’s
exciting – only we can say that. In 1972 when Canada won the Summit Series
against the Soviet Union, it was it was a time when we had the FLQ crisis and
suddenly we had this collaboration of Quebec and the rest of Canada – French and English Phil Esposito, Yvan Cournoyer, Paul Henderson, and Serge Savard who never lost a game – working together, Team Canada. No one had ever called a team, Team Canada before. Technology sure is a huge part of
modern day experience. I went through black and white, there was no satellite
in the sky until 1967/68. By the time the signal got to us, it was sort of a
strobing, peculiar image, it wasn’t clear at all. So it felt like I was watching a
lunar landing rather than hockey game. One of the most significant changes in
hockey is YouTube. Every kid can now watch Patrick Kane or Connor McDavid and
really study how they use their edges, what they do with the puck, with their
stick. It’s incredible how – you know in my day it was all some distant miracle. Now
it’s right there for you to look at, slow down, repeat, and it’s really led to an – a quantum improvement in the skill level in the
last decade. When we took hooking out of the game – obstruction out of the game –
we lost that little warning. Players are sort of free of all these things that
signaled – “hey, trouble encroaching’, imagine, you know, put that into a helmet and it into a earpiece and allow a player to realize, ‘hold on a minute here there’s
somebody coming at you.’ You know even in the original six days there was only two
Canadian teams now they happen to dominate, but for the modern fan
it is truly unbelievable that we are nearly at a quarter-century without the
Stanley Cup having come home. I think, I think it’s very Canadian. We always said
of our soldiers we’re best when we’re fighting for others. That’s why we’re
great peacekeepers. So I don’t think it’s Canadian to care whether we have the cup, I think it’s Canadian to know that we created it. Then it was Salt Lake City in
2002, I remembered it had been 50 years since Canada had won a gold medal Mario
Lemieux made an amazing moment by allowing the puck that was supposed to
be coming to him go through his feet and over to Paul Karya for a significant
goal. Snd at the Sochi Olympics in 2014 Marie-Philip Poulin scored two goals –
a tying goal and a game-winning goal and she’d already done that in Vancouver in
2010. You just know, there are certain things you see that says they’re at another level. So the Canadian game is in great hands. You know when I fly as I do every weekend, I’m constantly looking down at the
Prairie nights and I can see hockey rinks and I think it’s that necklace of hockey
rinks that goes from coast, to coast, to coast. That’s my favourite moment in my career. I’m Ron MacLean and it’s been my incredible experience and privilege to understand that hockey is Canada

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