Ron MacLean takes heat for not asking Gary Bettman about Blackhawks' sexual assault allegations

During the first intermission of Monday's Stanley Cup Final Game 4, Sportsnet's Ron MacLean interviewed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, which often has served as standard practice — if not quite a state of the union. MacLean's interviews with Bettman have historically provided a level of candour that goes above the commissioner's canned, aggravated double-speak, which almost feels patented.

On Monday, MacLean failed to ask Bettman a single question about the sexual assault allegations involving the Chicago Blackhawks organization, which date back to 2010 and have been thoroughly reported by TSN's Rick Westhead and The Athletic's Katie Strang, Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers. It was an abandonment of journalistic duty from MacLean, who has nearly unparalleled access to Bettman, a notably guarded operator who rarely makes himself available to the media.

Ron MacLean hasn't had the best playoff run. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Ron MacLean hasn't had the best playoff run. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

It would be one thing if a junior reporter, perhaps worried about the repercussions for their career, was tasked with interviewing Bettman, but MacLean wields undue influence at his network and he's ascended into celebrity status for decades since joining Hockey Night in Canada in 1986. Perhaps the 61-year-old thought it wasn't an important story, yet it's the most important story in hockey at the moment. MacLean perhaps banked on the idea that the audience at home wouldn't care about this rote, procedural interview. He was wrong.

Ken Campbell, formerly of The Hockey News, speculated that one of the conditions of the interview may have been for MacLean not to ask Bettman about the allegations. Noted. That's dereliction of journalistic duty on MacLean's part, as TSN's Salim Nadim Valji tweeted, for accepting the interview. If you have conditions attached that don't allow you to do an interview properly, don't do it at all.

It's been a dreadful playoffs for MacLean, who rightfully came under fire in May after making a joke to Kevin Bieksa with homophobic undertones. MacLean quickly issued an apology, offering a bizarre explanation that he was referring to a bottle of rum when he made his "tarps off" comment on the broadcast.

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