Ron MacLean makes crude joke on Hockey Night in Canada
(Screenshot/ Sportsnet)

Longtime Hockey Night in Canada and CBC host Ron MacLean is in hot water for an inappropriate joke he made during Tuesday night’s playoff game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens by a 4-0 score in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. MacLean was hosting the first intermission segment along with Jennifer Botterill. The two analysts being interviewed were Kelly Hrudey and Kevin Bieksa.

Bieksa brings humor to the panel and typically places fun pictures behind him in his office set up for HNIC. In the past, these photos have included Ryan Kesler’s naked ESPN Body Issue cover.

MacLean made an inappropriate sex joke during the second intermission that is causing uproar on social media. The joke came in response to Bieksa stating he was the most positive person on the HNIC panel. “You have a photo of a guy with his tarp off. You’re definitely positive for something”, McLean said in response.

It appears MacLean was implying that Bieksa had tested positive for an STD. Hockey fans on social media think MacLean made a gay joke and was implying Bieksa had tested positive for HIV/AIDS.


For anyone unfamiliar, a “tarp” is another word for shirt. Hockey players often use “tarp off” as a slang term when talking about playing street hockey outside shirtless.

MacLean has been working on “Hockey Night in Canada” since 1986–87 and has become a staple in Canadian broadcasting. He previously co-hosted the widely popular “Coach’s Corner” segment on CBC with Don Cherry. Cherry was let go by the network in 2019.

Cherry was fired for his “You People” rant in November 2019. He called out immigrants living in Toronto for not honouring Canada’s veterans and dead soldiers by wearing a poppy. MacLean opted to stay on with CBC despite many believing he would stick-by his longtime co-host and step down.

It’s hard to know for sure what the veteran broadcaster meant by his remark. MacLean could be forced to issue an apology Wednesday even if he didn’t mean to cross the line with his joke during Game 4.