Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ron MacLean's Empirical experience leaves a few gaps

“I use my empirical experience and I refereed for 23 years, and that prejudices my opinion, there's no doubt about that,” -- CBC Hockey Night in Canada host Ron McLean outlining for the Globe and Mail some of the foundation for his recent story on the Burrows/Auger dispute.

Ron MacLean, apparently flying too close to the bright flame of Don Cherry (and apparently seeking to outshine it on one night) has moved beyond the role of an impartial arbitrator of the news of hockey and instead, chosen to be a judge, jury and maybe even the executioner of Alex Burrows.

Last Saturday night, MacLean weighed into the debate over the events in Vancouver of last week which saw Burrows and NHL official Stephane Auger engage in a pre game skate and chat session, a public skate which Burrows charges was akin to Tony Soprano pulling up in the SUV to issue one of those never to forget warnings.

During the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of Saturday, McLean (seemingly wearing his former life as a referee on his sleeve) dedicated a good portion of his on air time to the topic of Mr. Burrows and Mr. Auger, clearly siding with the referee and portraying Burrows as just a little bit short of being a pathological liar.

Without any evidence, other than his favourite pieces of video and his impressions of Auger as someone who wouldn't throw away his career on something such as this, McLean basically trampled Burrows right to protest what he believes was uncalled for behaviour by the official.
In particular Maclean steps over the line when he decides he can read minds as to what Burrows was feeling or what he may have said to goaltender Roberto Luongo in an earlier incident. One which MacLean paints as some kind of career long makeup of Burrows, as that of an actor or diver.


It was left to Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault to seize some equal time much later in the evening, making clear his impressions on the post game show "After hours".

For MacLean, if he's decided to change from an "investigative reporter" to an "editorialist" all in one show, then perhaps the CBC needs to reassess his on air assignments and maybe give him his own segment where he can flog his conspiracy like theories as fact, without the fanciful image of an impartial observer that he normally tries to portray.

With Colin Campbell by his side on Saturday, McLean regained any of the penalty points of the past lost with the NHL. With his wonderful dissertation of the NHL line, MacLean trampled over the line of objectivity, becoming nothing more than a shill for the league than any kind of balanced working journalist.

It's a performance that has for the most part been panned across the board, from the media, the Canucks management and by Burrows own parents who have issued their own statement on the matter.

By not allowing for any interpretation of the Burrows side of the story (nor the extensive video piece that Sportsnet had of the lengthy skating conversation), with little examination of the flow of the game in question (including some interesting penalty calls) or any past incidents where Auger has made mistakes (perhaps an interview with Shane Doan could have been helpful, non?), McLean diminished his stature as a journalist, revealing himself in this case as nothing more than an apologist for the league with a fairly secure tie to the referees club.

It's an unusual mis-step for McLean, who for the most part during his years as a hockey information presenter been pretty non controversial. Occasionally he has stepped into the middle of one of Don Cherry's tempests, but for the most part he has offered up some balance to the mercurial rants of Mr. Don Cherry and the baffle gab offerings of Gary Bettman's occasional visits.

To so clearly mis read the situation at hand and providing the paint for the NHL's whitewash, he has certainly given viewers of the CBC cause to wonder just how objective a viewpoint they get every Saturday night.

Two things from Saturday are certain, one: it's a good thing that CBC doesn't have Olympic rights in Vancouver as Mr. MacLean's reception would most likely be much colder than any temperature to be experienced and two: Don Cherry must love watching his sidekick twist in the wind on this one, it must be an interesting thing to view controversy from the sidelines for a change .

Vancouver Province-- Ron MacLean responds to Vancouver's ire over Burrows segment
Vancouver Province-- Burrows family files complaint over CBC segment
Vancouver Province-- Alain Vigneault slams Ron MacLean in a rare challenge of a specific media member
Vancouver Province-- Healy says NHLPA needs to look into Burrows-Auger affair
Vancouver Sun-- Burrows' parents appalled by CBC's treatment of their son
Vancouver Sun-- CBC's Ron MacLean not sorry for criticizing Canuck Alex Burrows
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks’ Alex Burrows ripped by Hockey Night’s Ron MacLean: Watch videos, tell us — and the CBC — what you think
Vancouver Sun-- Canucks hunted in the land of zebras
Globe and Mail-- Vigneault ready to move on
Globe and Mail-- MacLean won't apologize for Burrows rant
Globe and Mail-- Burrows given no chance to defend himself
Globe and Mail-- Burrows incident lingers for NHL
National Post-- MacLean deserves offside penalty

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