One of the country’s most-beloved and iconic sportscasters, Ron MacLean has been a winter staple in most Canadian households since becoming a member of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast team in 1987. Along with his duties on HNIC, his hosting credits include every CBC Olympic broadcast since 1988, Rogers Hometown Hockey and he’s currently part of CBC’s newly-revived Battle of the Blades skating competition.

A member of Canada’s Walk of Fame and a multiple Gemini Award-winner, Maclean has come a long way from his early days in the late 1970s working at CKRD Radio in Red Deer, Alberta. But he still credits his boss at the station, Wayne Barry, with teaching him to elevate others – something that MacLean has since done throughout his career.

“Wayne just taught me to let your guest be the star,” MacLean says. “That was just simple, straightforward advice, and it had to do with a guy that phoned in to win tickets on the radio. I was the glib DJ, having fun with my listener and showing off a little bit. Wayne said, ‘It’s not that it was terrible, Ron, but you should have made that person shine. They were good enough to listen and call the station. If you make them shine, you by extension will.’ That’s probably the greatest wisdom that was ever given to me.”

Ensuring that others shine alongside you helps strengthen relationships, and MacLean feels that good partnerships lead to success, citing his more notable partners from over the years including Don Cherry on “Coach’s Corner”, Tara Slone on Rogers Hometown Hockey and Kurt Browning on Battle of the Blades.

For someone with such extensive experience in broadcasting, it may surprise people to know that for the first 10 – 15 years of his radio and television career, MacLean battled severe anxiety. He says that when he meets with young athletes and aspiring broadcasters, he shares his struggles to let them know they’re not alone, if they’re experiencing similar things. He also shares another tip from Wayne Barry that helped him to deal with his anxiety.

“I guide them with ideas about preparation and how important that is to your confidence,” he says. “Wayne told me told me to do 10 hours of prep for every one hour on the radio. I don’t think I ever met that, but I certainly realized that a lot of strength and belief comes from putting in the hours.

“I also think forgiveness of your mistakes is a huge thing. We tend to be wrapped up in perfection but mistakes happen. You’ll say the wrong thing or you’ll fumble over words. If you live and die with that, it’s going to be a long road. Your best work will come through mistakes.”

MacLean has had his share of mistakes. He recounts an instance from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro that provided a good chance for self assessment, reflection and growth.

“I was interviewing swimmer Penny Oleksiak and I kind of ran out of questions,” he shares. “So, I asked her about her brother, Jamie, who’s in the NHL. I resorted to something comfortable for me, but people said, ‘Can’t you just let Penny shine in her own light for the time being? Does it have to connect to her brother and hockey?’ And so, you sit back and you ask yourself, ‘Okay, what can I do differently or what should I be aware of at least?’ It certainly opened my eyes and ears.”

Opening himself up to different opportunities, MacLean is currently hosting the fifth season of CBC’s hit skating competition, Battle of the Blades. The show – which originally aired from 2009 – 2013 – pairs up hockey players and figure skaters to perform on-ice dance routines for an audience and judges.

Season five of Battle of the Blades premiered on September 19. Eight episodes of the show are scheduled to air with the winning team receiving $100,000 to donate to the charities of their choice.

“We’ve got a fantastic cast with the crème de la crème of the figure skating world paired with elite hockey players,” MacLean says. “When the show first started, it really was a different realm for me because it was reality television. I thought it would be a complete disaster, but I remember the buzz after the first show of season one. We were exiting Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and everyone was kind of slack jawed, amazed and buzzing. I hope we can achieve that again.”

Battle of the Blades sees athletes operating outside of their comfort zone, collaborating with new people and taking risks. MacLean applauds their efforts and feels it’s important for people to push themselves to try different things in their career.

“You can always do what you’re good at and make a go of it, but the great ones move out of their comfort zone,” he says. “In hockey, there’s a player for the Chicago Blackhawks named Jonathan Toews. When Jonathan entered the league, he would constantly drive the net against the fiercest, biggest defensemen in hockey. He took a chance every time doing something that wasn’t in his comfort zone. He could have played the finesse game, he could have stayed on the perimeter, but he wanted to show his nineteen teammates that this is what it takes. Shot blockers block shots, fighters fight, goal scorers shoot pucks, but it’s the one’s who do a mix of everything and step out of their comfort zone that ultimately are the greatest leaders. If you want to lead, you’re going to have to take those risks.”

As a lifelong hockey fan, we assumed that MacLean would have collected some very unique and interesting sports memorabilia over the years and asked if he had any special insurance for it. Turns out we were wrong. But like he said earlier, we all make mistakes.

“You know what, I only have one autograph from my entire time working in hockey and that’s a Bobby Orr autograph signed back in 1988 at Maple Leaf Gardens. He was doing an Easter Seals telethon and I got him to sign a Hockey Night in Canada show script. The awards I win, I usually give away. I’m not a keepsake guy. I try to rationalize that I’m keeping it my head, and that’s the best place, or in my heart.

“We certainly have our home insured, though, and I have some lovely artwork painted by Rod Charlesworth from Kelowna, British Columbia. Those are probably the nicest things I have in our home and they’re insured as part of our home insurance.”

Ron MacLean is currently hosting Battle of the Blades on CBC. Learn more about the show here. You can follow Ron MacLean on Twitter here.

55 Comments
  • Reply Greg

    September 30, 2019, 8:09 pm

    I stopped watching hockey a long time ago – being a Leafs fan brings nothing but misery. I do miss Ron MacLean, easily the most professional and classiest sportscaster in the history of any sport. This article only strengthens my view of him.

  • Reply Jennifer

    September 30, 2019, 10:04 pm

    I love his comments about elevating others. I think this is good advice for human kind in general whether its business related or not. It feels good to do it and its good for the soul! I also loved when he disagreed with Don Cherry, it was good for a laugh!

  • Reply Lori

    October 1, 2019, 7:15 am

    For someone who suffered from anxiety at a young age, he has definately overcome it and seems quite at home in front of the camera.

  • Reply Jesse

    October 1, 2019, 9:01 am

    A very interesting read! I had never delved into Ron MacLean’s background before but it is very obvious his current wisdom is thanks to his past experiences. It’s always refreshing to see someone his age speak about mental health and give advice/helpful tips to others, even if he doesn’t always follow it himself. It’s a perfect reminder that we never stop growing and developing as individuals! My favorite part of every article is to see how the interviewer/writer will tie things in to the insurance world – somewhat of a reach this time around I would say!

    • Reply Gisella Lalli

      October 1, 2019, 12:06 pm

      Watching hockey with my husband always meant nobody talks when coaches corner was on. I loved watching the Ron & Don duo. Ron is awesome. Also watch battle of the blades. Keep up the great work!

  • Reply Sandra

    October 1, 2019, 9:02 am

    Sounds like he has really learned to walk in the wisdom he has been taught throughout his career and really grown from it. That’s what makes him a great sportscaster.

  • Reply .

    October 1, 2019, 9:23 am

    Excellent read. Ron is awesome on any program I see him on.

  • Reply Tricia

    October 1, 2019, 9:39 am

    Always enjoy watching Ron McLean. Such a patient, easy going, fun and informative sportscaster. I met him back in College while I was working at a sporting event. Such a nice man!

  • Reply Becky Beuerman

    October 1, 2019, 9:52 am

    Love Ron McLean – a true Canadian.

  • Reply Angie House

    October 1, 2019, 10:29 am

    Ron is an amazing individual and I agree that when you don’t always make it about yourself and elevate others, you feel good about yourself as well. Great advice Wayne! It was a well written article and i wish everyone out there that is struggling with anxiety has someone like Ron to be there for them and know that they are not alone and that we understand. Glad to hear your house is insured. Now, do you need a quote on your autos? LOL

  • Reply Caralee

    October 1, 2019, 10:42 am

    Ron McLean…..a Canadian Legend. So happy to see the return of Battle of the Blades. I applaud those hockey players stepping out of their comfort zone….tough thing to do in life.

  • Reply Sue

    October 1, 2019, 12:34 pm

    Great article about a long time host of Hockey Night in Canada. Don’t watch it often, but he’s great!

  • Reply Paula Blundell

    October 1, 2019, 12:43 pm

    Great read. I think Ron makes everyone he comes into contact with shine, even Don Cherry!

  • Reply Ashley Poirier

    October 1, 2019, 1:33 pm

    Ron has been known to take the time to visit many small hockey towns and make each one feel special in its own way. Thanks so much for this and really looking forward to the return of Battle of the Blades – also a great family show to watch. Cheers!

  • Reply Paula Ellis

    October 1, 2019, 1:44 pm

    I loved him when I watched hockey, especially keeping Don in check, but I truly appreciate him doing the Olympics. He is nothing but class. No need to point out faults of a long ago interview, but to learn how much it taught him along the way, and share his knowledge in the article is the real lesson.

  • Reply Cheryl Tabor-Campbell

    October 2, 2019, 9:53 am

    Ron McLean is a true Canadian sports commentary treasure! He’s so down to earth and engaging…a true joy to watch.

  • Reply Sue Whellan

    October 2, 2019, 4:05 pm

    I stopped watching hockey along time ago but would still watch the banter between MacLean & Cherry. It was more interesting than the game itself.

  • Reply Jessica Spang

    October 2, 2019, 4:39 pm

    Great article. What a down to earth guy! I grew up watching Ron MacLean on coaches corner, Hockey Night in Canada was something that brought my family together and I have such happy memories!

  • Reply Lana Hood

    October 2, 2019, 5:59 pm

    Thank you for adding details about someone I have always liked in the media. Very good article.

  • Reply Donna Kooistra

    October 2, 2019, 6:36 pm

    I always enjoyed watching Ron MacLean.Thankyou for sharing your struggles.It helps many people to talk about anxiety.

    • Reply Mary Bouillon

      October 3, 2019, 8:33 am

      What a great article. Thank you for sharing your struggles, I think it helps others to know they are not alone. It’s also nice that Ron gives credit to his boss from many years go. I love watching him with Don.

  • Reply Sarah Crossman

    October 2, 2019, 6:39 pm

    I have always enjoyed listening to Ron on Hockey night in Canada.

  • Reply Toby

    October 2, 2019, 9:46 pm

    What a career! Such a class act!

  • Reply Maggi

    October 2, 2019, 10:15 pm

    I cannot even fathom HNIC without Ron McLean. The two are synonymous.

  • Reply Josh Canning

    October 2, 2019, 10:24 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this article! That was wonderful advice his boss gave him! Ron is a great Canadian!

  • Reply Darlene Groves

    October 2, 2019, 11:15 pm

    I am so glad that Ron MacLean is back with Battle of the Blades- I have missed the show. We all make mistakes, and having to wait for the CBC to bring this show back was one of theirs.

  • Reply Todd Zanuttini

    October 3, 2019, 11:23 am

    I enjoyed reading the article about Ron. It shows that even people in high profile positions can and do have and deal with the same issues everyday people have.

  • Reply Janice Chevrier

    October 3, 2019, 3:19 pm

    Always love watching Ron on Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry!!

  • Reply Pamela

    October 3, 2019, 3:33 pm

    Ron MacLean is a household name in Canada! Very good read! Love Battle of the Blades!

  • Reply Maria

    October 3, 2019, 9:18 pm

    A class act, and a wise and humble man.

  • Reply Kathy

    October 3, 2019, 10:44 pm

    Great article. Making mistakes are just opportunities to grow!

  • Reply GUY HOLM

    October 3, 2019, 11:15 pm

    Ron is probably the most honest and respected person in Canada!

  • Reply Mary Jane Ellis

    October 4, 2019, 6:10 am

    I will stop to watch any interview Ron MacLean does. He in so personable and respectful that his subjects truly do shine. Ron has been a fixture in our home for years and hopefully many more to come

    .

  • Reply Kerry Liles

    October 4, 2019, 9:14 am

    I have always been a big fan of Ron. He is knowledgeable about hockey and the history of the game and he is always professional. His ability to speak to the casual viewer and the hard core fan is a great asset. I especially am impressed by his ongoing finesse in interviewing Gary Betman – it would be easy to disrespect him and be confrontational but Ron always presses Gary in a proper way and makes him eager to answer the hard questions – the sign of the consummate interviewer. Much respect.

  • Reply Donna

    October 4, 2019, 9:23 am

    I have read Ron’s books and thoroughly enjoyed them. They were actually gifts for my husband but he is not a big reader..lol. I love watching him on Hometown Hockey, Coach’s Corner and now on Battle of the Blades. You are a remarkable human being and so very humble. Keep up the good work!!!

  • Reply Jodi Helps

    October 4, 2019, 8:07 pm

    Ron McLean is high on my list of people I would want in a dinner guest. He has all the qualities one would want for fantastic and engaging conversation. As stated in the article, he aims to elevate others. He has compassion, intelligence, wit, rhyme, insight,humility and experience. He champions those around him. The world of sport, and by extension, all of us, are richer for his engagment and work.

  • Reply Charlene Magnes

    October 5, 2019, 11:07 pm

    Ron McLean treats every person he interviews with such respect. Of all sports commentators/hosts he is the one I’d moat like to meet. Thanks for your contributions Ron!

  • Reply Cathy Steenburgh

    October 7, 2019, 5:53 pm

    We need more people like Ron who is an awesome example for us all!

  • Reply Lynda Llewellyn

    October 7, 2019, 7:40 pm

    Thanks for a great article.

  • Reply Susan

    October 7, 2019, 8:21 pm

    Very interesting article, thank you for sharing your story. Ron McLean is always a pleasure to watch. I love Battle of the Blades!

  • Reply valerie caldicott

    October 7, 2019, 8:48 pm

    I liked how the article showed how Ron is human, can make mistakes but can also help others.

  • Reply Kathleen Kohut

    October 8, 2019, 12:35 pm

    Watching Ron meant I was spending time with my Dad as he always wanted a boy but didn’t get one until 10 years later. Hockey was something we always did together and I cherish those memories. Nice to hear that even a great broadcaster gets anxiety (like knowing a difficult client or risk coming into the office). Thanks for the great article.

  • Reply Diane Luhta

    October 8, 2019, 6:04 pm

    I was asked once who I would like to have dinner with if it could be anyone dead or alive. I answered Ron McLean

  • Reply Cat Pelletier

    October 8, 2019, 9:58 pm

    Ron MacLean is a true champion. His heart and smile warm any room and he is truly Canadiana. I was surprised to read about Ron’s struggles with anxiety early in his career but he is just as human as the next person. Thank you Ron for sharing your heart with all of the world. A true class act!

  • Reply Teresa Hill

    October 9, 2019, 12:52 pm

    Ron MacLean Rocks!!! Love watching him and Don Cherry go at it! and he looks like my dad lol

  • Reply Genevieve Gibson

    October 9, 2019, 9:07 pm

    Ron MacLean has always presented himself as a classy individual on the air and he continued to do the same in this article. Allowing others to shine and donating his awards to others demonstrate how humble he is. Ron makes the world a better place.

  • Reply Barbara

    October 10, 2019, 2:51 pm

    It is always interesting that no matter how pubic the person you never know what they are dealing with or have dealt with privately. Such a great way to show others that you are not weak when you share what you’ve been through

  • Reply Verna

    October 10, 2019, 6:09 pm

    Ron os “living legend” and he really does make everyone he is interviewing “the star” – he does interviewing brilliantly.

  • Reply Sheryl

    October 11, 2019, 10:08 am

    Ron has always been a humble guy and a class act. Love that Battle of the Blades is back and he is great as the host!

  • Reply Dee

    October 26, 2019, 8:10 pm

    Ron Maclean…..so.professional….so kind….so caring….do tactful…….so in tune……so sweet….so very good to others…
    Love this man, he is so amazing to watch, and always speaks so well.if others……💜

  • Reply Dee

    November 16, 2019, 8:10 pm

    Ron Maclean….don’t beat yourself up, Don Cherry’s dismissal is NOT your fault…
    He speaks his mind and nothing will change that…..Yes it’s tough leaving Coaches Corner behind after all this time…..
    Personally, I think you deserve better treatment than is dished out by him……friend or not, you should be treated with more respect..And that’s just what I see in your interaction on HNIC !
    You are way above him……..💜

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