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'Hockey Night in Canada host' Ron MacLean. (CBC)
'Hockey Night in Canada host' Ron MacLean. (CBC)

Ron MacLean helps rescue man from river Add to ...

If there's a play-by-play call for Ron MacLean's heroic efforts Thursday, it hasn't surfaced yet.

The Hockey Night in Canada co-host is being lauded for abandoning his lunch date with Don Cherry and helping to pull a man from the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

News of the daring rescue first broke on Twitter, where users painted him as the Good Samaritan who dived in and hauled the man ashore. Turns out his involvement wasn't really a goal, but an assist.

At about 1:30 p.m., MacLean and Cherry strolled into the restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Penn's Landing, where MacLean was staying. They'd been seated for only five minutes when a frantic woman rushed in from the patio.

"In a very heavy French accent, she said, 'Someone help! Help! There's a person in the water!'" MacLean recalled. "I could tell by her urgency that something bad was happening."

MacLean leaped up and bounded out of the restaurant, leaving a surprised Cherry alone at the table. On his way out, MacLean grabbed a velvet rope divider to help pull the person out.

By the time he'd arrived, the French woman's dining partner, whom MacLean had noticed on the sunny patio as he walked in, had already stripped down to his underwear and leaped into the water. As he dragged the person over to a raft, MacLean positioned himself at the edge of the pier and prepared to help lift the victim out. It was a manoeuvre he'd executed many times as an avid sail boater, he said.

"I climbed down and then I used that velvet rope, passed it to two of the [hotel]staff who had now joined us and the three of us pulled him up out of the water," MacLean said. "But the obvious hero is the guy who jumped in and got him first."

While grateful for his rescue, the victim's appearance was troubling. The young man, who appeared to be in his 20s, was fully clothed and wrapped in yellow rope, around one of his arms and one of his legs, MacLean said. His throat was covered with about five rounds of packing tape, he added.

"You do have thoughts like, if someone's trying to kill this individual, they may still be on site, or, if this guy's trying to kill himself, what state is he in?'"

It's still unclear what the man was doing in the water. Efforts to reach the Philadelphia Police Department Thursday night were unsuccessful.

As speculation settled a little on Twitter Thursday evening, fans had a field day with the co-host's water rescue adventure and regarded him as a full-fledged hero.

Twitter user coldcanuck wrote "Let's send Ron MacLean to the Gulf to stop the Oil Spew!"

MacLean was modest about his efforts. He saw the man he calls the real hero in the hotel later in the day. "I just said, 'Well done,' and he was kind of rushing off somewhere. That's the last I saw of him, unfortunately," he said.

Despite all the excitement, MacLean is just glad the person got out of the water alive.

"About the only thing that I brought to the table was experience trying to pull people up out of the water," he said. "I've seen a lot of guys go overboard."

Perhaps the greatest risk he took that day was cutting out on his lunch with Cherry, who stayed at the restaurant to "supervise."

"He was ticked," having been interrupted in the middle of a story about Chicago Blackhawks centre Dave Bolland, MacLean said, adding that the adventure was "a fun diversion."

"To tell you truth, I was looking for anything to get out of hearing Dave Bolland stories."

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