The following is a profile on one of Prince Edward Island’s most successful hockey people, Doug MacLean:
As Doug MacLean walked towards the Rogers Communications building at the corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Jarvis Street in his navy striped dress pants, he wore a serious look on his face. MacLean was ready to go to work. “In the summer, his passion is raking the seaweed and just standing out there in his shorts. In the winter, his passion is hockey. I’ve never seen somebody, go zero to 60 as Doug has. His passion is his greatest tool,” says Darren Millard, host of Sportsnet’s Hockey Central.
His job lasts from September straight through until June, a demanding job that relies on the National Hockey League. As an analyst at Sportsnet, whenever the players are on the ice, MacLean is in the studio.
Analyzing hockey has been a part of MacLean’s life for many years. Born and raised in Egmont Bay, Prince Edward Island, his head coaching career started in nearby Summerside, home of the tier two junior ‘A’ hockey club, the Summerside Western Capitals. For many years in the 1980’s, MacLean was behind the bench for the Capitals as head coach of the club. This is where he got his start in hockey, and his career took off from there. “You know, you grow up somewhere and you learn lots of things. It’s your up-bringing’s. It shapes your personality, shapes your morals, it shapes lots of things,” says MacLean. “It keeps you grounded because people there are pretty honest and pretty basic, pretty in tune. You go home and people know what you’re doing because you’re so well known but it keeps you grounded. I think it was a great training for me.”
MacLean moved from tier two junior hockey to the varsity ranks as head coach of the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds for the 1984 season. After serving as a coach in several minor professional and semi-professional leagues in the United States, MacLean made his way into the National Hockey League as a head coach of the Florida Panthers in 1995.
His highlight in Florida was the teams 1996 playoff run where MacLean lead the Panthers to a Eastern Conference championship, only to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Colorado Avalanche.
After being fired the next season due to a losing start, MacLean didn’t waste any time before being back in the hockey scene. He was approached with the possibility of having an expansion hockey club in Columbus, Ohio. MacLean would act as the vice-president of hockey operations and general manager of the club. It seems as though he would be moving from one untraditional hockey market, to another. “The biggest challenge was trying to build hockey in a non-hockey market. Educating the fans, and getting people playing the game,” says MacLean.
The Columbus Blue Jackets during MacLean’s tenure had more downs then ups. With many losing seasons, it was tense times in Columbus. In 2007, MacLean was fired from his role with the Blue Jackets.
On the second floor of the Rogers building in downtown Toronto, preparations for Tuesday nights Hockey Central program are well underway. MacLean sits down in Sportsnet’s meeting room where three, 42” televisions are mounted on the walls. There are three computers with nothing but stats and scores from around the NHL and five leather chairs. Producer of the show Matt Marstrom wears a sweater and jeans, and analyst for the show, Damien Cox, a hockey columnist from the Toronto Star, supports a similar look. MacLean remains in his navy suit with black dress shoes and black socks that coincide with his grey glasses. The other members of the show, former NHL enforcer Nick Kypreos, is downstairs at Sportsnet’s radio portion of the building on the FAN 590. Host of the show, Darren Millard is no where to be seen with only a half hour until the show airs.
The time is 6 p.m. and the countdown until showtime is approaching. MacLean goes into the make-up room to get touched up by the artists. Kypreos, who joined the meeting about 10 minutes earlier, goes down two floors with Marstrom to the Sportsnet newsroom which is also home to several studios and control rooms.
As MacLean sits himself down at the far right of the table with Cox, Kypreos and Millard beside him, three cameras zoom in and out at different angles. Sportsnet Ontario will broadcast the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs matchup live from the Air Canada Centre.
At precisely 6:30, it’s time for MacLean and crew to go on air. His expertise and experience in the game is quite obvious when he talks about a recent trade. “Doug brings a wealth of knowledge of the game and about it’s players. He really knows what’s going on in a GM’s mind,” says Marstrom.
As the program ends and leads into the hockey broadcast, the doors to the studio open and in enter note takers for the analysts. Planted in front of them is a large 42” television that will broadcast the game. At the end of the first period, the analysts, behind closed doors once again, debate important subjects from the period that was in front of a national audience.
With about ten minutes remaining in the third period, the crew move up a floor to a different studio. After the post-game show, the crew is home in time to catch the third period of Sportsnet’s other broadcasted game between the NHL’s Oilers and Flames.
For MacLean, the opportunity to be an analyst and still stay apart of the game he loves is his definition of fun. “Are you kidding me?” MacLean says when asked about if he ever gets nervous on air. “Its the least stressful job in the world.”
With the wealth of knowledge that his colleagues point out, a possible return to the NHL is always a possibility for someone like MacLean. Millard, a colleague and close friend of MacLean still thinks he can be apart of an NHL franchise. “If Doug wants to work in the National Hockey League, Doug can work in the National Hockey League,” says Millard. “I think in two or three years you will see him back in a role as a a consultant or advisor. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him being associated with a (professional) team.”
For MacLean, that opportunity has already presented itself. “I’ve had offers for head coach and general manager positions and I have no interest in doing that. If something comes along then sure i’ll look at it. This is too good of a job, we get paid too much, if it was the right situation then sure I would but I wouldn’t jump back in for any position in the NHL.”