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Key sponsor wants MacLean in his seat
Labatt's, a key Hockey Night in Canada sponsor, is lobbying heavily for Ron MacLean's return to the CBC's highly rated show.

Late yesterday afternoon Labatt intervened in the dispute telling the CBC to "resolve the matter."

The brewery pointedly suggested it wanted to see MacLean back as host of the very popular program.

The CBC would only say it is aware of Labatt's concerns.

But the program's executive producer said he was hanging onto the idea that MacLean would be back in the CBC's fold for the first show on Oct. 12.

"I'm holding out some hope," Joel Darling said yesterday. "But it certainly doesn't look good at this point.

"Ideally, I hope Ron comes back. Different people have different thoughts on whether or not there's a door open. I hope there might be."

MacLean and CBC parted company Monday when MacLean's contract expired after 17 years with CBC Sports. MacLean is best known as Don Cherry's pun-popping sidekick on the Coach's Corner segment of HNIC, but he has also served as a commentator for several Olympics and the Calgary Stampede.

CBC issued a release Monday saying contract negotiations reached an impasse and that MacLean was leaving the CBC. Source.

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October 2, 2002