Pierre McGuire has been involved with hockey and the NHL as a player, coach, manager, player development and broadcaster/analyst for more than four decades.
Born in New Jersey and raised in Montreal, McGuire played college hockey at Hobart in New York. After a year playing in Europe, he broke into coaching at his alma mater in 1983 (on a $400 yearly salary) before joining the staff at Babson College in the mid-’80s. While coaching at St. Lawrence University, a chance encounter with Hockey Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman dramatically changed the trajectory of his career.
As a scout and assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins, McGuire was involved in two Stanley Cup championships. He was later an assistant GM and head coach with the Hartford Whalers for the 1993-94 season, and an assistant with the Ottawa Senators. While serving as a head coach in 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 an ubiquitous voice in hundreds of NHL broadcasts.
McGuire spent the 2021-22 season with the Ottawa Senators as Senior Vice President of Player Development.
He joins Matt Keator and Kirk Luedeke to talk about his personal story and often winding path on both the hockey operations and media side of things.
From the podcast:
On how he caught the “hockey bug” growing up in Montreal:
My grandfather brought me to my first NHL game in 1966 at old Madison Square Garden, the Montreal Canadiens against the New York Rangers. I was only five years old. But what I remember today extremely well was smoke in the rink, the smell of the popcorn and the noise of the puck when it hit the boards on a shot. Why? I couldn’t believe how just everything came together and I was addicted from that point on to being around hockey. And obviously as a kid growing up in Montreal, the Canadiens were overwhelmingly good in those days. And, I had a chance to see the 1971 team: Jean Beliveau, Stanley Cup. Had a chance to watch Guy LaFleur play for the Quebec Remparts against the Montreal Junior Canadiens in the Quebec Major Junior. And there’s so many things I remember growing up in Montreal, but it was always around the excellence of the Montreal Canadiens. That’s what I remember the most.
On connecting with Scotty Bowman while an assistant at St. Lawrence:
I was running practice one afternoon and after practice was over, I was in the gym, riding the bike, and all of a sudden this gentleman with a baseball hat and dark glasses comes in the office and says, I really enjoyed that practice- 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 I 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 the general manager. So he called me up and says, “If I take this job, will you come with me?” I said, “Are you kidding? Of course I will.” So he eventually did not take the job for whatever reason. He never really shared that with me. But he said, I’m going to come back in the NHL, and when I do, I want you to join me.
On how his broadcasting from between the benches changed the hockey television experience and made an impact across multiple sports:
We could bring the electricity of the interplay between the two teams or maybe the interplay between coaches and referees or the interplay between players involved in a match. If we could bring that energy from that position to the TV screen, that was something that really never happened before. And so NBC just allowed it to flourish over time and it became more and more creative as we went along. And the one thing that I’m really proud of is I think that over time, that position helped change sports broadcasting. I really believe that you saw analysts going courtside in the NBA. You saw analysts going inside a Major League (Baseball) dugout. You saw guys trying to do it from the sidelines of football. I really think it changed sports, broadcasting it for the better. By the way, because the energy that happens on the field of play, whether it’s on a baseball diamond or a football field or a basketball court or a hockey rink, that energy, it’s so difficult to capture on a TV screen. But if you have somebody that’s down there that can relay the electricity, it’s a phenomenal experience.