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HNIC host Ron MacLean apologizes for French referee comments

TORONTO - Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean has apologized for setting off a social media firestorm following the Montreal-Tampa Bay game.

During the Canadiens 4-3 win over the Lightning, MacLean suggested a French-speaking referee should not have worked the game.

The comment apparently stemmed from a complaint by Lightning coach Jon Cooper who felt his team lost because of a bad call from a ref during Sunday's Game 3 defeat.

MacLean suggested the NHL used a French referee to send a signal to the Florida team in the wake of Cooper's complaint.

Later in the CBC broadcast, MacLean said he was sorry, adding it is”divisive any time you become about French and English in our country.”

He said he certainly didn't intend to go down that path.

MacLean added that while he thought Francois St. Laurent”maybe shouldn't have been put into Game 4, I'd have no problem with Game 5, 6 or 7.”

MacLean explained that he wouldn't send an Alberta referee in to do an Alberta game had an Alberta official been involved in a tough Game 3.

”It's not about French Canadians, certainly not about French, and that's what I kinda triggered and it's easy to step into that kind of mistake.”

The Canadiens swept Tampa Bay in four games.

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