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Hockey Day In Canada: Yukon week-long celebration

by Adam Kimelman /
In his role as host of CBC's major hockey broadcasts, Ron MacLean has had a front row seat for dozens of big-time events.

This year's Scotiabank Hockey Day In Canada, however, could trump them all.

The day-long event, which will take place Feb. 12 in Whitehorse, Yukon, will bring MacLean back to his personal hockey roots.

"Dad was stationed with the military in White Horse," MacLean said. "That's where I got introduced to hockey."

While Ron MacLean Sr., served at Canadian Forces Station Whitehorse, Ron Jr. laced his skates and turned laps on outdoor rinks for the first time in Whitehorse from ages 4-8. While this won't be his first trip back to where his hockey experiences began, it will be the first time he'll have his father along with him. It will be the elder MacLean's first trip back to Whitehorse in 43 years.

"It's going to be an incredible experience for me for a couple reasons," MacLean said. "The Yukon gave me my love of the game. ... For dad, he's 88 years old now, and to not have been there in 43 years ... he had a big part to play in closing CFS White Horse -- he was an official pall bearer at the base's closing. It was the high point of his [military] career."

Most NHL teams have father and son trips during the season, and this year's Hockey Day in Canada will be MacLean's version of that tradition.

"He's been talking about this all season long," said Ron.

Much like the Whitehorse area has been excited to be hosting this year's Hockey Day in Canada.

The name of the event is a bit of a misnomer, as there will be a near week-long celebration in the area. There will be youth hockey events, banquets and appearances by a host of NHL alums, including Kelly Hrudey, Kevin Weekes, Trevor Linden, Wendel Clark, Reggie Leach, Pat Quinn, Brad May and Tim Taylor. The Stanley Cup and Memorial Cup will be on hand, as will Calgary Flames mascot Harvey the Hound and Toronto Maple Leafs mascot Carlton the Bear.

Joel Darling, CBC Sports' director of production, said the theme of this year's event will be trailblazers, with the day showcasing how hockey fosters leadership, exploration and innovation. He also said there will be remote broadcasts from five spots around Canada -- Cole Harbour, N.S.; Quebec City; Oakville, Ont.; Regina, Sask.; and Victoria, B.C.

There also will be broadcast features on numerous youth hockey figures throughout Canada.

"This event really has turned into, instead of being a 13 1/2-hour broadcast, it's a five-day event," Darling said.

Or, as Doug Janzen, Scotiabank's Whitehorse branch manager called it, "It's hockey's birthday in Canada."

One of the more intriguing events of the Hockey Day event calendar will be a team of Ottawa Senators alums facing a team from Dawson City in a rematch of sorts from 1905, when the Dawson City Nuggets traveled to Ottawa to challenge the Senators for the Stanley Cup.

"This event really has turned into, instead of being a 13 1/2-hour broadcast, it's a five-day event."
-- Joe Darling, CBC Sports

MacLean will host most of CBC's 13 1/2 hours of live coverage from an outdoor rink at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse, starting at noon ET. He'll move inside Tahkini Arena later in the day, where the Vancouver Giants will play the Kamloops Blazers in a key Western Hockey League game. That game will serve as the backdrop to regular the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, including MacLean and Don Cherry hosting Coach's Corner and the Hot Stove panel.

The day also will feature an all-Canadian team tripleheader. At 2 p.m. ET, the Edmonton Oilers host the Ottawa Senators. At 7 p.m., the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Montreal Canadiens, and at 10 p.m., the Calgary Flames visit the Vancouver Canucks. The Maple Leafs-Canadiens game also will be available on NHL Network in the United States.

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