Ron MacLean will make his first-ever visit to Williams Lake this Sunday when he and Tara Slone co-host the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour.
“I cannot wait to meet people in Williams Lake,” MacLean told the Tribune during a phone interview from Toronto Friday. “I’m sure I will learn a couple of stories. If you are a referee, or a young peewee girl bound on making it to the Olympics, come and tell me because I will want to know.”
After MacLean does the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast Saturday night in Toronto, he will fly to Vancouver and then into Williams Lake on Sunday morning.
“Do you know what FOMO means?” MacLean asked. “I have horrible FOMO (fear of missing out) on this telecast because it is always a rush job to come in on a Sunday and not get to experience as much as I would have liked to.”
MacLean said the summer’s wildfires were one of the reasons Williams Lake was picked for this year’s tour.
“It’s a story that everyone noticed,” MacLean said, adding it was the examples of community spirit that resonated. “You can liken it to a tree. On Saturday night it’s Hockey Night in Canada, that’s the fruit on the tree, but the roots of the tree are the Sunday telecast and the Hometown Hockey.”
When MacLean arrives on Sunday, he will attend a corporate meet-and-greet and then once the puck drops for the Montreal versus Vancouver game at around 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon, he said he will be free to go out and mingle with the crowd down at the Oliver Street festival site.
“Hopefully I will also have a window after the meet-and-greet and before 3:30 p.m., but I don’t exactly know what my duties will be then.”
Listen to more of the interview here
MacLean began playing hockey when he was four years of age when his family lived in the Yukon.
These days he plays hockey two nights a week in a men’s league and said he loves the game because it involves the feet and the hands, although he admitted his hands are “shot.”
“There’s nothing like the ability to move backwards with speed. It’s a remarkable game. I’ve always loved it,” he said. “I got away from playing to referee at a high level for about 23 years. That stopped me playing the game and I was just skating around the ice, helping the game, but I’m glad to play again.”
When asked if he had any advice for young referees, MacLean chose to quote from American literary critic and former Yale professor Harold Bloom’s book Where Shall Wisdom Be Found.
“Bloom compares wisdom writers,” he said. “At the end of all these comparisons, whether it’s Homer and Plato, or Shakespeare and Cervantes, the conclusion is wisdom is knowing what to overlook. And I just love that metaphor for refereeing. It’s the hardest thing in the world. Everybody says you just call the penalty, but I think there’s nuance to the way you police, the way you officiate and the way you judge.”
For referees, experience will be the best friend, he said, adding maintaining a sense of humour is vital.
“If we could know what to overlook in our own lives it would save us a lot of self-talk and grief, critical for a young zebra, which is what we call young referees,” he added.
MacLean credited Don Cherry for teaching him when he started out in his sportscasting career.
“Even though he would bully me on the air, I knew he was in my corner,” MacLean said. “He was a tremendous influence and friend.”