Editor's Note: Ron MacLean has since apologized for the insensitive comment. You can find his statement here.
During Tuesday’s national broadcast of Game 4 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, broadcaster Ron MacLean appeared to make an attempt at a homophobic — or at least insensitive — joke following one of Hockey Night In Canada panelmate Kevin Bieksa's segments during the second intermission.
In a comment directed toward Bieksa, MacLean said: “You have a photo of a guy with his tarp off, you’re definitely positive for something.”
"Tarps off" is a common phrase used in hockey culture that refers to going shirtless.
Many on social media quickly spoke out against MacLean’s remark, noting how weird, inappropriate and offensive his seemingly odd attempt at humor was.
Former goaltender Brock McGillis, who was the first professional men's hockey player to come out as gay, urged MacLean to be more careful with his choice of words, regardless of intent.
Panelmate Jennifer Botterill appeared visibly uncomfortable during and after the exchange, while Bieksa and analyst Kelly Hrudey kind of just chuckled along awkwardly while MacLean said his bit.
MacLean had yet to issue a statement at the time of this writing, and it remains to be seen how his employer, Rogers Sportsnet, will handle the situation. The broadcaster is just 18 months removed from firing iconic, controversial hockey personality Don Cherry, who MacLean rode shotgun for on Hockey Night In Canada's Coach's Corner program for decades.
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