It will be a homecoming of sorts for CBC's Ron MacLean when it comes to hosting the 11th edition of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada on Feb. 12.
MacLean’s love of hockey was crystallized in Whitehorse in the mid-1960s as a child while his father was serving in the military. Ron MacLean Sr., 88, will be returning to the area for the first time in 43 years with his son for the week’s festivities.
"I just have fond, fond memories of my five years in Whitehorse," said MacLean, who joked that a side benefit of this year’s event will be less time with Donald S. Cherry.
It will be a family affair for MacLean this time around, as he will also have wife Cari accompanying him on the trip.
MacLean said he got "hooked on hockey" in the Yukon, taking up the game and playing local teams and those from neighbouring Alaska. Watching the Original Six NHL teams was a bit of a challenge as it was before satellite technology reached the area, however.
"CBC did not reach the North live in that decade, we’d get Hockey Night in Canada on videotape, two-inch tape, usually a week late, so it was a special time," said MacLean.
The main broadcast for Hockey Day will start on Feb. 12 at 12 noon ET (CBC, CBCSports.ca) with crews centred at the Canada Games Centre and Tahkini Arena, but will be preceded by a week filled with events in Whitehorse. The broadcast will be available in high definition.
Sport Yukon is helping present several events, and an exhibit of Yukon hockey history opens Feb. 8 at the MacBride Museum.
Alumni of the Ottawa Senators and Dawson City Nuggets will face off in Wednesday’s top attraction at Tahkini, in tribute to the epic 1905 Stanley Cup battle between those two teams.
Sarah Harmer, Dave Bidini, Buck 65, as well as other artists and short films, will be part of the "Stolen from a Hockey Card" celebration on Thursday night at Yukon Arts Centre.
The gala banquet, emceed by Hockey Night in Canada’s Scott Morrison, takes place Friday evening at the Yukon Convention Centre.
In addition to the Whitehorse festivities, there will be satellite celebrations on Feb. 12 in Cole Harbour, N.S., Quebec City, Oakville, Ont., Regina and Victoria.
As always, there will be a heavy emphasis on minor hockey during the week, with games and clinics for boys and girls, including a goaltender session on Tuesday led by Hockey Night in Canada’s Kelly Hrudey and Kevin Weekes.
Scotiabank’s "Big Save" contest rewarded the Petitcodiac-Salisbury Bantam A Flyers, who will get a free trip from their New Brunswick home to play a local Yukon team.
Cherry specifically mentioned the New Brunswick bantams, adding that his favourite part of the annual event is seeing the enthusiasm of all the minor hockey players.
The kids could get to meet a host of hockey greats, with the list of those visiting during the week including Wendel Clark, Lanny McDonald, Trevor Linden, Ken Dryden, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Danielle Goyette, Mark Napier and Pat Quinn.
Potential future NHL stars will display their talents in the first ever Western Hockey League game in Whitehorse. The Vancouver Giants face the Kamloops Blazers in a sold out game 2 p.m. local time on Feb. 12 at Tahkini Arena.
The television broadcast and online stream on Feb. 12 will include an NHL tripleheader involving the six Canadian teams, with the following ET start times: Ottawa is at Edmonton (2 p.m.), Montreal hosts Toronto (7 p.m.), and Calgary visits Vancouver (10 p.m.).