Well, good morning Ottawa!
At 6am EST on Monday morning, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch broke the news that the Ottawa Senators have hired former broadcaster Pierre McGuire as their senior vice-president of player development. The news was followed by a Postmedia exclusive interview with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk.
The #Sens are set to introduce former NBC broadcaster Pierre McGuire as senior VP of player development today. Postmedia has an exclusive interview with McGuire and owner Eugene Melnyk that will be posted by @ottawasuncom and @OttawaCitizen any minute. Pick up a copy.— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) July 12, 2021
The move came partly due to former Detroit Red wings senior vice-president, and five-time Stanley Cup-winner in a variety of roles, Jim Devellano’s recommendation, and also received endorsements from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.
Melnyk, who made clear his desire to see the Senators return to the playoffs next season, sung McGuire’s praises, referring to him as a “key piece” of the team’s future ambitions.
“He’s another piece and he’s going to be perfect for everything,” the Senators’ owner told Postmedia. “(McGuire) just adds another piece to what is hopefully a Stanley Cup winning team. Our general manager and his group is second to none, our scouting is second to none and we have our coaching in place with a new goalies coach with D.J. and the assistants all lined up.”
A native of Englewood, New Jersey, McGuire served as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1991-1992, after a brief stint as the team’s director of player development and recruitment. He would win a Stanley Cup on Scotty Bowman’s staff in 1992.
McGuire joined the Hartford Whalers as an assistant coach the following offseason, and was also named the team’s assistant general manager the following year. In November of 1993, McGuire assumed head coaching duties after the departure of Paul Holmgren. He coached the team to a 23-37-7 record, and was fired on May 19, 1994.
The axing of McGuire incited a media firestorm, with Whalers captain Pat Verbeek publicly applauding the move, and claiming that McGuire was the subject of mockery across the league. The former coach would be ordered by Bettman to forfeit half his remaining salary in 1995, for providing confidential coaching evaluations to the Edmonton Oilers while employed by Hartford.
McGuire would then move on to the Senators, serving as a scout, and assistant coach during the 1995 season. He was fired on January 23, 1996, along with head coach Dave Allison, and goalie coach Chico Resch, before briefly coaching the ECHL’s Baton Rouge Kingfish.
He began his broadcasting career in 1997, as a colour commentator for CJAD’s English-language Montreal Canadiens broadcasts, before moving on to TSN in 2002. It was there that McGuire earned a reputation as one of the most recognized voices in hockey, becoming a staple of TSN’s NHL and World Junior Hockey Championship broadcasts, before joining NBC in 2006, and signing full-time with the American broadcasting giant in 2011.
Melnyk explained the hire as bringing in someone with a wealth of NHL experience to serve as a sort-of advisor to general manager Pierre Dorion.
“It’s good to have someone there with experience,” said Melnyk. “He used to have, God bless him, Bryan Murray. Bryan would mentor (Dorion), he would help him and he could bounce ideas or thoughts off him. Right now, he’s by far the most senior person and he has to have someone as wing man to help him during the hectic times of a Stanley Cup run.”
While this is the 59 year-old McGuire’s first NHL job since 1996, Melnyk is confident that his experience, and wide array of NHL contacts will be a key component of Ottawa’s Stanley Cup push in the not-too-distant future.
“The last couple of pieces have to be put into place. It’s no secret we need a defensive defenceman and possibly a first-line centre and then as far as players are concerned I think we’ve covered it.
“There’s no more ‘we’re still in rebuild’. We’re here to play and, dammit, we’re going to win.”
McGuire, clearly enthused about joining the upstart Senators, echoed those sentiments.
“Before I even got to Ottawa, and I’ve had a chance to go over it with (Dorion), but the plan is really solid and concrete,” said McGuire. “I respect the vision that they have. There are organizational needs that they have, and there are few perfect teams in the league. One thing you try do, and I believe (Dorion) has been doing this, is you try to get players that your coach is comfortable with and players that will help the coach win.
“That’s the process everyone is going through, right now.”