TSN mourns a beloved staffer

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:54 AM ET

It wasn't exactly a day of holiday cheer at TSN's studios yesterday.

Staff were informed in the morning that Paul McLean, a much-loved and highly respected producer at the network since 1987, had passed away Wednesday night after losing a battle with cancer. McLean, TSN's executive producer of events, had taken a leave of absence from the network a year ago to fight the disease.

While McLean's hands were all over high-profile TSN programs such as the world junior hockey championships, his true passions were curling and the CFL.

Had his health allowed it, McLean surely would have steered TSN's coverage of the Canadian Curling Trials in Halifax last week -- many curlers knew him well -- and been a big part of the upcoming world junior tourney in Vancouver.

Under McLean's direction, the network's CFL and curling productions became widely acknowledged as the best in Canadian television. His death shocked everyone at TSN, where he was more than just a colleague. He was a dear friend.

Tragically, at just 39, he's gone.

"Paul's talents and commitment were well known and respected across the industry, as his influence and touch reached many beyond the TSN family," TSN president Phil King said in a letter to network staff.

"We will miss him deeply."

TSN aired a tribute to McLean on SportsCentre last night.

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SCHOOL DAZE: ESPN's Mike Patrick and Paul Maguire are going back to school. The network announced yesterday the duo will work on NCAA football games next fall, when NBC takes over the Sunday night NFL package. The third man in ESPN's current Sunday night booth, analyst Joe Theismann, joins Al Michaels on Monday Night Football in 2006, when the series shifts to ESPN ... Fox, NBC, ESPN and Comcast remain interested in a proposed Thursday-Saturday late-season package of eight NFL games that would begin next season. The league-operated NFL Network is also a possibility.

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