While in-house option Jason Botterill and Tampa Bay assistant GM Julien BriseBois would certainly be more logical choices to fill the Pittsburgh Penguins’ vacant general manager’s office, I have to admit I’m a little intrigued by the persistent reports that NBC analyst Pierre McGuire has participated in multiple interviews with Pens ownership.
They say there’s no accounting for taste, but it’s clear McGuire’s showy, somewhat pretentious broadcasting style has soured most hockey fans on his legitimate credentials. I’ve got bad news for some people out there: you probably wouldn’t like a lot of folks if they broadcast games on a regular basis.
Don’t get me wrong, personality does matter in many situations, but by most accounts McGuire gets along with most of the big names in the hockey business. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be as plugged in as he is. It’s mostly the viewing public that disapproves, and sorry to say that factor doesn’t amount to much in deciding whether someone is fit to perform in a high-powered hockey operations role.
There are certainly valid objections to McGuire’s candidacy for Penguins general manager. For one, he hasn’t been employed by an NHL team since the 1990s, and not in a prominent position since his unpopular coaching tenure with the Hartford Whalers in 1993-94. He was later a scout and assistant coach in Ottawa, but jumped to the media side of the business in 1997 and hasn’t turned back since.
McGuire has reportedly been a candidate in other recent GM searches, but his name hasn’t lingered in such a discussion until now. Perhaps part of that can be attributed to his previous relationship with Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux, who got to know McGuire when he was part of the Pittsburgh coaching staff in the early 1990s.
McGuire is obviously a sharp observer of the sport at all levels, that much comes across clearly in his work on NBC in his country and TSN in Canada. Whether that ability would translate to a management position is uncertain, but there is value in seeking a fresh perspective.
BriseBois would also deliver on that outsider’s viewpoint, while still bringing the connections he’s created during his time in NHL front offices. I see him as the middle ground candidate for the Penguins, in case they don’t want to stick to the familiar in Botterill.
Hiring McGuire would obviously represent the complete opposite of Botterill, as he would be a stark departure from what Ray Shero built during his eight years in charge. No matter what the Penguins’ decision ends up being, we’ll discover a lot about how much the Shero firing was personal and how much of it was a desire for a change in organizational direction.