Ron MacLean apologizes for on-air joke during Maple Leafs-Canadiens Game 4

Dave Sandford / National Hockey League / Getty

Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean apologized Wednesday for a joke he made on air Tuesday during the second intermission of Game 4 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.

MacLean traded jabs with analyst Kevin Bieksa and caused a stir online with a comment some considered homophobic.

MacLean tweeted a statement to clarify his remark.

"First and foremost, I regret and apologize for what happened last night," read the statement. "Early in the show, we had a fun moment featuring a photograph of our colleague Anthony Stewart enjoying a rum party. That photo, along with a few others, sat on the shelf of Kevin Bieksa's set for the remainder of the night. In the second intermission, when Kevin quipped that he was 'the most positive person on our panel,' I directed viewers to that photo, using 'tarp off' (i.e. shirtless) to specify the picture with the rum bottle, and quipped, 'You'll be testing positive for something.' I meant the rum."

Bieksa wasn't in the photo, which showed Wayne Simmonds, a shirtless Anthony Stewart, and Chris Stewart.

"I understand that when others are within 'earshot' of a two-way conversation, the potential for misunderstanding exists," MacLean continued. "If you only heard that last line in isolation, I completely understand how that misunderstanding occurred. I am deeply sorry. The idea of language of intention, of personal responsibility - I have seen those concepts used as broad exoneration. It's not enough.

"We have a contract with you, the viewer, that in us, you see yourself. I've reached out to several guiding lights in the equity-seeking arena, my allies in the LGBTQ2S+ community, and to my co-workers to receive their wisdom and continue our joint effort to tend to the hearts of us all. I appreciate the power of the voices who spoke to me last night and this morning. It provides a sense of possibility. It's how change works."

MacLean, 61, has worked on Hockey Night in Canada since the 1986-87 NHL season.

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Ron MacLean apologizes for on-air joke during Maple Leafs-Canadiens Game 4
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