Ron MacLean has watched a number of Newfoundlanders make their mark in the National Hockey League over his stellar career as host of Hockey Night in Canada.
He watched Daniel Cleary struggle early in his career only to bounce back from adversity to win a Stanley Cup.
He saw Michael Ryder score goals with his big shot.
He saw Darren Langdon show how tough a Newfoundlander can be by fighting the best heavyweights when he was only a middleweight at best over a 10-year pro career.
MacLean is back in the province for another visit, this time for the 2018 Hockey Day in Canada celebrations that will showcase Canada’s game from coast-to-coast with some of the best storytellers in the game on hand for what is expected to be a beehive of activity over the next few days.
We asked Ron to share a few thoughts on some of the NHLers who are proud to call Newfoundland and Labrador home when we chatted with him Wednesday:
Crab fishing. Big heavy shot. A really great guy. I met him socially and in NHL circles. Just as solid a citizen you would meet. He could put the puck in from centre. He reminds me of Brent Burns in terms of his shot. A real character guy and whenever Don and I sit and have a few beers he loves to watch “Deadliest Catch,” and Ryane’s dad is a fisherman so that comes to mind.
I remember Grapes getting mad that Danny was wearing an earring one time. I don’t know why he was wearing one but Grapes was upset because he was playing in Belleville with the Bulls and we did an interview at Maple Leaf Gardens and he was only 18 years old and Don said “Get rid of that earring. You can’t have an earring”. That just made me howl. Resilience is the one word that comes to mind because he had a tough start. It took him a while to find his stride and eventually the marriage with the Detroit Red Wings organization gave him that grounding and that chance to succeed so a real resilient guy and obviously a champion so that’s amazing.
We had him on Hockey Night in Canada with Darren Langdon and he took charge of the interview. He said “Hey Darren, I hear Ron was in your bar at Langer’s in Deer Lake”, and Darren says “Yes, and the waitress said it wasn’t too good he only had one beer and he left a lousy tip.” For me it’s his sense of humour and obviously another guy who could wire a puck.
I don’t know him that well, but I remember him as a classic stay-at-home defenceman. He was extremely responsible and smart. He really knows the game and of all the Newfoundland players he might be the one best suited to coach in the future. He really had to learn the ropes and find a way to make himself an NHL player.
Sweet. Reminds me a little bit of a Dave Keon-style skater. Just one of those guys who appears out of nowhere and has excellent vision on the ice.
He should have been on the Olympic team that’s the first thing I can think of. Clutch player … you give Teddy a chance around the net he will finish. Not too many guys have a better finishing touch than Teddy and when I think of him I think of the word clutch.
A sense of humour. Marty Brodeur had a Light beer symbol on his cellphone to indicate it was Darrren Langdon calling because he associated Darren with good times. Colin Campbell, senior executive vice-president Colin Campbell always tells the story of Darren wanting a Rangers track suit. Almost like Gordie Howe when he signed his first contract it was about a team jacket and for Darren it was just to make the team and the NHL. It was not to get a big paycheque. It was to wear a logo and to be part of it. After that it’s indestructible — how many fights and how many people did he defend, it’s a hard go and he did it.