Ron MacLean reveals he is completely deaf in left ear

The Elbow staff

 Ron MacLean with Don Cherry on  Coach's Corner  years after they switched seats. Image source:  Ross Dunn

Ron MacLean with Don Cherry on Coach's Corner years after they switched seats. Image source: Ross Dunn

TORONTO, ON – Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean revealed today that he has been completely deaf in his left ear for the past 10 years.

The ear – which he refers to as his "Grapes ear" – is the one that has copped most of Cherry's boisterous ramblings for the better part of 27 years. The two switched sides on Coach's Corner a few years ago so MacLean was able to communicate with the 83-year-old.

"People would always comment about how patient I was with Grapes," MacLean told The Elbow, "But truth be told, I wasn't able to hear a single thing he said for a few years there. That really helped."

"However, after it became clear that I couldn't hear him, the network sent me to a doctor and they revealed the truth, forcing the seat swap."

Ear specialist, Dr. Trevor Dickson at the Toronto General Hospital, said it's a miracle that any of the organ's structural integrity on that side remains.

"Typically, after years of abuse such as that, the walls and canals tend to break down completely," Dr. Dickson said. "We see it especially in airport ground staff and people who work in Formula One pit crews without ear protection."

"Say if you were to blow an air horn directly into your ear for five years straight, you'd see all of the internal matter break down. That is what I would have expected in this case."

The specialists at the hospital believe that MacLean's ear was able to build up its own defence, by building a wall made of skin that closed off the external auditory canal from the outside world.

Staff at the hospital are currently working on creating an earplug for MacLean's right ear that will block it from Cherry's rambunctious tirades, but still allow key words to filter through, such as "Russians", "Pinkos", "Ontaria" and "Let's go!"

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