I grew up watching CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, and it became customary to join Ron and Don at the first intermission to hear what the former Bruins coach had to rant about each week. Don's punny friend, Ron MacLean, was somewhat of a mystery to me as it seemed like he had the best job in the world: he talked about hockey for about four hours every week on TV. How did he get this awesome job? HBIC is proud to present the story of how Ron MacLean got his great job in Cornered, written by Ron MacLean with Kirstie McLellan Day and published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Cornered takes the reader through the journey that led Ron MacLean, radio disc jockey, to the host of Canada's most popular television show and the partner to Don Cherry on Coach's Corner. The journey is interesting, funny, and intriguing, and it certainly was an entertaining read.
From his biography, "Ron MacLean, host of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada for twenty-five years, began his broadcasting career in 1978 as an all-night DJ in Red Deer, Alberta. In 1984, he moved to Calgary to host Flames telecasts on Channels 2 and 7. MacLean joined CBC in 1986, where he hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs' telecasts on HNIC, before becoming the full-time national host in 1987. He has also hosted CBC’s coverage of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, World Cup Hockey, the Calgary Stampede and Battle of the Blades. MacLean has been recognized with ten Gemini Awards, including Best Host in 2004 and 2006. He and his wife, Cari, live in Oakville, Ontario."
Also from the HarperCollins website, "Kirstie McLellan Day has written five other books, including the #1 bestselling memoir of Theo Fleury, Playing with Fire, and the bestselling memoir of Bob Probert, Tough Guy, as well as Above and Beyond, a biography of cable magnate JR Shaw, Under the Mat, a memoir with Diana Hart of the Hart wrestling family, and No Remorse, a true-crime story. The mother of five lives with her husband, broadcaster Larry Day, in Calgary, Alberta. Visit her online at www.kirstiemclellanday.com."
Ron MacLean takes us all the way back to the days when his parents, Cape Breton residents, were growing up. Ron's father, Ronald Francis MacLean, had a pretty tough childhood from Ron's account, and he left home at eighteen to join the army. Ron's mother, Catherine Sarah MacDonald, was raised by her grandmother, and she joined the air force when the opportunity arose. Through their respective time serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, Ronald and Catherine eventually married in France in 1959. April 12, 1960 saw young Ronald Joseph Corbett MacLean welcomed to the world in Unterm, Germany at the Zweibrucken Air Base!
Being a child of military parents, Ron moved all over the country. He finally found a foothold in Red Deer, Alberta when he was given a job at 99.9 CKRD-FM radio in Red Deer while in Grade 11. He was soon promoted from "station identification button presser" to nights from 3PM until midnight. Soon after that, Ron jumped to newsreader as his first on-air job with the radio station. Ron made his way through to being a regular deejay, and that eventually turned into a TV job where Ron was Red Deer's best known weatherman.
When Ron was in Grade 12, he met his "one in six billion" - Cari Lynn Vaselenak - who was in Grade 10. Like most guys at his age, Ron would go out of his way to cross paths with Cari despite never having the nerve to actually ask her out. Ron finally worked up the courage to ask her to be his date for graduation, and Cari accepted. The two have never been apart since as Ron writes,
"I've never had a serious relationship with anyone else. I am Cari's first love, and she is mine. How often does that happen?"Ron also includes many stories in Cornered about Don Cherry and other CBC personalities with whom he had the opportunity to work. My favorite story is Ron's explanation of the Dave Hodge incident and how he was fired after criticizing CBC's decision to cut away from a Flyers-Canadiens playoff game to the national news. I knew of Hodge's "firing", but the interesting twist for me was how the CBC handled it the following week on Hockey Night In Canada. This is one story that everyone needs to read because it's almost too hard to believe.
Overall, I have to say that Cornered is an excellent read over its 307 pages, and it is highly entertaining. Ron's honest, candid stories are entirely what makes him enjoyable as a television personality, and you can literally hear him in your head telling you the stories he has written as you read along. Ron's writing doesn't come across as pretentious or high-and-mighty, but rather he seems humble and content with his chosen profession. Reading his anecdotes is like reading the memoirs of a man who loved his life. It's this reason that I feel that Cornered deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval because it feels like a Saturday night in front of the television with Ron MacLean spinning yarns about the game of hockey.
Cornered is highly recommended for all readers! It's funny, entertaining, and you get a good insight into what it's like working with Donald S. Cherry on a weekly basis!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!