For Hockey Day in Canada: My Ron MacLean Story

See below for: “My Free Marketing Advice for CBC and the Toronto Maple Leafs,” “On Sidney Crosby and Fan Backlash,” and “Holy Night in Canada.”

Ron MacLean and My Hometown

One year, I believe it was right before the Hockey Night in Canada playoffs, Ron Maclean came to stay at the Lake Louise Inn, where I was working (and sometimes supervising) the front desk. This was way back in ’96 or ’97 — so don’t expect me to get all the details right.

I knew he was coming — and that it was that Ron MacLean — because I had taken his reservation a few weeks before. I recall the other staff on duty humming the “da da DA ta da” Hockey Night theme in the background as I took his credit card number over the phone.

“Play it cool!” I hissed as I cupped the telephone mouthpiece. “He’s just a regular guy. He just has a really cool job!”

After booking him in, I was pleased to give him the lay of the land — where to go, what to see, where to eat, where to drink… He explained that he was recharging his batteries before a long stretch of long telecasts and I hoped to make his stay as relaxing and special as possible.

I must have made an impression, because whenever he had a question or request, he’d pop by the front desk and ask for me. And I went out of my way to hook him up. Often it was above and beyond the call of duty.

I made him a few dinner reservations — I think for the Station Restaurant and The Post Hotel — and then, both

The Lake Louise Inn in the heart of Lake Louise, Alberta.

times, after he left, called back and gave a heads-up so he would get some extra top-notch attention. Not that it was needed, both venues offer great food and service.

Whenever he popped by, we’d shoot the shit — briefly — about hockey, the Rockies, whatever. I’m not really a guy who is star-struck, so it was the same as with any guest. He was a heck of a nice guy, grateful for the help I offered, and generally someone who seemed like I’d enjoy having a beer with.

When it came time leave, he thanked me kindly, shook my hand, and said he hoped to come back again soon. I had helped make his stay a good one.

And then left without offering a tip.

It was the last I ever saw of him.

So, on the eve of 2013’s Hockey Day in Canada, right here in Peterborough, I would like to raise a toast to the man who, weekly, has to put up with that blowhard Don Cherry.

Mr. MacLean, you’re a heck of a nice guy, a great promoter of hockey, and tolerant, tolerant man.

But you’re a lousy tipper.

Welcome, once again, to my home town. Enjoy our hospitality. Enjoy the passion that we bring to hockey. You’re going to have a heck of a time on our old canal.

And if you’re looking for a good place to eat or drink, drop me a line. I’m still happy to hook you up.

Just don’t invite Don, OK?



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For more hockey writing, please see:
Holy Night in Canada: A Toast to the Return of Hockey
“…Hockey, in a way that great religions often aspire to, acts as a leveler of people. It gives a commonality. I have seen Native kids practicing on frozen fields in the Prairies. I’ve watched a skinny Asian kid trying to raise his wrist shot off the ice, over and over again, against the boards of Moss Park Arena in the crumbling heart of Toronto. I’ve seen exhilaration personified as a 12-year-old girl stick-handled alone under the shadow of Victoria glacier on the frozen emerald surface of Lake Louise. On the ice, they are all just players.”

On Sidney Crosby and Fan Backlash
“…Do I think that the media can tone it down a notch? Of course I do. Focusing solely on one player takes away from the game. Daily Crosby headlines mean that other stories are not told. Crosby-cams distract from the sport as much as the glowing puck of FOX Broadcasts once did.”

My Free Marketing Advice for the CBC and the Toronto Maple Leafs

“…I’ve got news for you. The Leafs are not a mere hockey team. No, the Leafs are the reason that the bulk of Canada is forced to watch second tier, just slightly better than bush league hockey, week after week, every Saturday night of the entire NHL season. And why we’ve had to do so for decades.

If you’re a true hockey fan, you’ve pretty much got to hate that.

Sure, you don’t hate it in a Bin Laden, Margaret Wente, -43 wind-chill kind of way. But you hate it nonetheless. You hate the fact that an organization that is more concerned about selling condos than making the playoffs is the only option on Saturday night.”