RinkWise Podcast: Pierre McGuire’s love of hockey shines through

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Pierre McGuire, longtime NHL broadcaster, coach and player developer (Getty Images)

Pierre McGuire has been involved in hockey and the NHL as a player, coach, manager, player development and broadcaster/analyst for over four decades.

Born in New Jersey and raised in Montreal, McGuire played college hockey in Hobart, New York. After playing a year in Europe, he broke into coaching at his alma mater in 1983 (on an annual salary of $400) before joining the staff at Babson College in the mid-1980s. coach at St. Lawrence University, a chance encounter with the Hockey Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman radically changed the trajectory of his career.

As a scout and assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins, McGuire played in two Stanley Cup championships. He then served as assistant general manager and head coach of the Hartford Whalers for the 1993-94 season, and assistant of the Ottawa Senators. While serving as head coach of the ECHL, McGuire took the opportunity to join the media side of hockey and became a broadcast analyst for the Montreal Canadiens. He then spent the next 20 years as the ubiquitous voice on hundreds of NHL shows.

McGuire spent the 2021-22 season with the Ottawa Senators as senior vice-president of player development.

He joins Matt Keator and Kirk Ludeke to talk about his personal story and his often winding journey both in hockey operations and in the media.

Listen:

From the podcast:

On how he caught the “hockey bug” growing up in Montreal:

My grandfather took me to my first NHL game in 1966 at old Madison Square Garden, the Montreal Canadiens versus the New York Rangers. I was only five years old. But what I remember vividly today was the smoke in the rink, the smell of popcorn and the sound of the puck hitting the boards on a shot. Why? I couldn’t believe how everything fell into place and I was hooked on hockey from that point on. And obviously, as a kid growing up in Montreal, the Canadiens were extremely good at that time. And, I had the chance to see the 1971 team: Jean Beliveau, Stanley Cup. I had the chance to watch Guy LaFleur play for the Quebec Remparts against the Montreal Junior Canadiens in the Quebec major junior. And there are so many things that I remember when I grew up in Montreal, but it was always around the excellence of the Montreal Canadiens. That’s what I remember the most.

About Scotty Bowman while an assistant at St. Lawrence:

I was running one afternoon and after the end of training I was in the gym, I was riding my bike, and suddenly this gentleman with a baseball cap and dark glasses comes to the office and said, I really enjoyed this workout- I’m Scotty Bowman…. He said, “Do you mind if I get your phone number?” So I said, “Not at all.” So I gave him my office number and gave my (home) phone number. There were no cell phones back then… And Scotty stayed in constant contact with me, which was amazing. He was working for “Hockey Night in Canada” at the time, and probably about three months into our relationship, he was approached by the New York Rangers to be the president and general manager. So he called me and said, “If I take this job, will you come with me?” I said, “Are you kidding? Sure.” So he ultimately didn’t accept the job for whatever reason. He never really shared that with me. But he said, I’m going to come back to the NHL, and when I do, I want you to join me.

On how its broadcast between the benches changed the hockey TV experience and impacted multiple sports:

We could bring the electricity of the interaction between the two teams or maybe the interaction between the coaches and the referees or the interaction between the players involved in a match. If we could bring that energy from that position to the television screen, it was something that had really never happened before. And so NBC just allowed it to flourish over time and it got more and more creative as we went along. And the one thing I’m really proud of is that I think over time that position has helped change sports broadcasting. I really believe you’ve seen analysts go on the court in the NBA. You’ve seen analysts get into a Major League (Baseball) dugout. You’ve seen guys try to do that on the sidelines of football. I really think it changed the sport, spreading it for the better. By the way, because the energy that occurs on the playing field, whether it’s a baseball field, a football field, a basketball court, or a hockey rink, that energy is so hard to capture on a television screen. But if you have someone there who can relay electricity, it’s a phenomenal experience.

The podcast can be streamed at hockeyjournal.com/podcast and on major platforms, such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

“RinkWise” is brought to you by Paul Vincent Hockey, Laura Stamm Power Skating, Team ONE Hockey, Sacred Heart University and University of Nebraska High School, Lovell Hockey and Pro Ambitions.

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