With MacLean welcoming viewers to the program as footage rolled of Washington D.C., he compared the players on both teams to first responders during the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001.
"It's crazy to compare to what the emergency responders did during that time, but a spirit has to start somewhere and as you enjoy this series between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals, Game 6 coming up, 3-2 New York, you can't help but be struck by the players and the way they've played these games," MacLean said as footage of D.C. gave way to images from the Rangers' locker room. "They are like police officers, they are like firefighters. You can't fight fire with ego, Brad (Richards) knows that. The pain these men have faced, the price they keep on paying, the hearts they keep on lifting."
Not surprisingly, MacLean's comments sparked outrage on Twitter.
On Thursday, MacLean and CBC issued a statement in an attempt to clarify his comments.
"Washington and New York. The two cities united by the tragedy of 9/11. I, like everyone on the planet in his or her lifetime, saw beyond the horror, the single greatest testament to the strength of the human spirit in the efforts of the first responders," says Ron Maclean.
"We never know if we'll have that spirit. The bravery, the resilience. As I made clear, the hockey games in no way compare. However Sports has proven a worthy training ground in nurturing the qualities which beget that spirit. To say he plays like a firefighter or a policeman would instantly conjure the traits an athlete most desires, especially in New York and Washington. There could be no higher praise of a player, no greater choice of a role model .
But as I said of first responders, 'Our worst day is their everyday'. They stand alone."