Pierre McGuire returns to Canadian television with Sportsnet: “Hockey is my passion”

It was past 11:30 p.m. when Pierre McGuire finally descended from the riser, the bleachers below having emptied, the house lights coming back on and Bell Center security ushering the stragglers through the door and into the warm evening Montrealer. He didn’t even know he was trendy.

The 60-year-old said he wasn’t on Twitter – ‘too many fake accounts’ – and didn’t know how often his name might have appeared on the platform when he returned to TV Canadian on Thursday as an NHL draft analyst. It was the first of his two scheduled appearances with Sportsnet this month.

“If everyone was listening to this, they wouldn’t want to be in the business,” he said. “You’re just going to do your job. Be the most prepared. I think the most important thing is: the people who criticize you, they don’t even know who you are.

“So why not meet them and see what they’re up to. But I don’t pay attention to it. »

McGuire was a surprise addition to Sportsnet’s coverage of the draft in Montreal, announced as part of a press release issued two days before the first pick was announced. Until early May, he was senior vice-president of player development with the Ottawa Senators.

The team fired him, just 10 months after hiring him.

He said Sportsnet called two days after he was fired. McGuire said it took time: “Because I had to work out a deal with the Senators to be able to move.”

McGuire was on set for all of Sportsnet’s first-round coverage on Thursday, working alongside host David Amber and analyst Sam Cosentino and former NHL scout Jason Bukala. He is slated to return to the air July 13 — from Toronto — for the NHL’s free agency opener.

“It’s great, because hockey means so much here,” McGuire said. “The people I worked with at TSN were great. The people I work with at Sportsnet, they’re so intense, they love hockey.

He pointed out that he grew up around Montreal.

“There are so many people coming up and saying, ‘It’s so great to see you back on Canadian television,’” he said. “I was really grateful for people’s response.”

McGuire began his career on the other side of the media divide. He won the Stanley Cup as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992. He served as an assistant general manager for the Hartford Whalers and also worked as a scout with the Senators before getting into the media.

He worked in radio, with Habs radio shows, and moved into television, with TSN, where he covered both the NHL and international events before moving south to work for NBC. .

McGuire said he entered the arena around 1 p.m. — more than six hours before the first pick’s scheduled reveal on Thursday — simply because he wanted to be there. By the time he left for the night, he had been in the building for over 10 hours.

Thousands of fans were inside the arena long before the draft started. At one point, two young fans approached the riser. Amber, the host, invited them both onto the stage before the cameras went online, and the entire panel signed autographs. (Responses to some elements of the panel weren’t always so glowing on social media once the show started, and especially so as it dragged on deep into the night.)

None of these last reactions reached McGuire.

“I’m not tired at all,” he said. “I feel good. Just full of energy, working the guys I worked with and the people in the truck. It was just fantastic. It was a great day.

He wasn’t sure it would signal a more permanent return to television.

“I really enjoyed my year in Ottawa,” he says. “I loved being back with the team. It was a nice dynamic. The relationship with the players, coaches and the farm team was excellent. I just had a blast. I really did. The people of Ottawa treated me very well. No complaints there.

“So you’re kind of, man, you wanna come back, you know?”

He said he would discuss his future with his wife and children. McGuire said the family still has a home in Ottawa, which is on the market. Her daughter attends Dartmouth College and her son, a hockey player, attends Colgate University.

The resolution of his contract in Ottawa gave him flexibility in his next move, he said, and that partly meant he had no timetable around his decision. His next plan was to study the draft results and prepare for free agency.

“Hockey is my passion and it’s been my entire adult life,” he said. “And doing it in a place where hockey is really important to me.”

(Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA Today)