Team owner Eugene Melnyk stated in the club’s media release, “On behalf of the entire Senators organization, I would like to welcome Pierre McGuire back to Ottawa. We are excited to add Pierre to our hockey management group. His experience will be instrumental as we continue to build an elite team. Pierre’s knowledge of the game and its players is highly regarded and I am confident that he will positively assist our team as it progresses to the next level.”
Moments earlier, this Full Press Hockey contributor opened his mailbox to find a newspaper with McGuire splashed on the front page. Yes, I still subscribe to a paper, have to support print journalism – but I digress.
Next up was a barrage of social media comments on Twitter, pro and con. There was outright laughter, blinking eye memes, you name it. But there were also positive comments acknowledging McGuire’s vast knowledge of the league from his years of scouting, coaching and for the past 19 years, broadcasting.
The fact is; there’s no in-between with the 59-year old. The soon-to-be former Connecticut resident is an acquired taste, and for the Ottawa Senators organization, McGuire is certainly the flavour of the day.
That being said, the Senators certainly have had a need for another voice to assist general manager Pierre Dorion. Especially since Daniel Alfredsson left his advisor role in July 2017.
Peter MacTavish joined the hockey operations staff as assistant GM in September 2018. However, there remained a requirement for someone that had been around the game to act as a sounding board for all hockey decisions.
It was in March 2019, that the Senators were reportedly conducting a search for President of Hockey Ops. However, that never came to fruition.
McGuire reached out to Dorion in May after discussing with his wife, Melanie, that he’d attempt to seek an NHL management position with the NBC television contract expiring.
He also spoke to Melnyk in June which really kickstarted the talks to where they are today.
The timing was also right for the family. McGuire’s daughter, Justine is heading into her sophomore year at Dartmouth. Son, Ryan is entering his freshman season in the hockey varsity program at Colgate. The McGuires own property two hours from Ottawa in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, not to mention Pierre’s mother, a Senators’ fan also resides in the La Belle Province.
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McGuire did admit on the call, that he almost made the jump to hockey management a few years earlier.
“I actually turned some jobs down along the way. I was actually offered a general manager’s job, but the contract was not long enough. I had seven years left on NBC deal and the team that offered me the deal said it was only a two-year opportunity. At the time, I said that doesn’t work. I made a promise to NBC at the time, that I wouldn’t leave for anything less than four years.”
What we do know, McGuire does bring 30 years of experience at the NHL level, whether it’s been as a scout and assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Senators, a head coach and assistant GM with the Hartford Whalers, and of course his years of broadcasting games on TSN and NBC.
McGuire explained via a Zoom call Monday how his job as a television analyst actually prepped him for the position.
“I think the one thing that’s really important is; “He’s just a media guy,” that’s not really true. I spent a lot of time coaching at the college level. I spent a lot of time coaching and scouting at the NHL level. And when if you do the tv job that I had the privilege of doing for over 20 years, you get to see a lot behind the scenes of what works with each organization in the league and what doesn’t work – what players are trending up – what players are trending down. Because one part of working in the media that really works if you’re doing it properly is you do it with an unbiased eye. You don’t care who wins and who loses. You don’t care what maybe fans think about or GM’s care about. You’re watching with unfettered access and with an unbiased eye. I think that really helps when it comes to the evaluation process of players.”
“I’ve been around it for so long. When you work inside the glass, between the benches, however you want to describe it., you’re right in the game. You’re talking to the coaches everyday. You’re talking to the players everyday. The way I try to do it, is you talk to the scouts everyday. So, I’m not sure there’s going to be a big adjustment period for me,” added McGuire.
The position itself is “multi-dimensional,” noted McGuire. It’s parameters include dealing with amateur and pro scouts, American League and developmental staff, and most importantly being that sounding board for the Senators GM to exchange ideas with.
“I think more than anything else, just trying to support and be there for Pierre Dorion as much as I can be,” McGuire stated.
Dorion himself appeared relieved to have a hockey “lifer” join the Senators’ management team.
“Over the last year we’ve been talking about adding someone to our management group, as early as January last year. And we both felt we needed the right fit. When Pierre reached out to me. It was a no-brainer to bring someone of his experience and his knowledge into our management group was what we felt was going to be a great addition.”
The GM also added, “He’s going to be in a lot of things in our hockey department. Obviously, having worked in tv the last years as far as watching a lot of NHL games is something that he’s definitely going to have a lot of input as far player transactions. At the same time he’s done a lot of scouting. He’s done a lot of World Juniors. He’s seen a lot of college hockey over the last years. I think he can help us a lot there also.”
“We’re a small group. So every voice that we have has a big say. And that will be the case with Pierre. Obviously, his knowledge and experience in the hockey world will definitely be beneficial and positive for the organization. I think it helps us in taking the next step. He’ll be a valuable asset that we can all bounce ideas off. Whether scouts, the coaches, the management group, I think he’s really going to be an important part here.”
“I’m the general manager. Pierre reports to me. If you’ve known anything on how Pierre Dorion operates, is that I communicate with everyone. Everyone knows what’s going on. Whether it’s coaching staff, scouting staff. Pierre’s role will be in Ottawa. He will be ever-present in everything we do as far as hockey. But it was made very clear to me, he reports to me.”
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With McGuire landing a three-year contract and Dorion’s deal slated to expire at next season’s conclusion, the GM was asked point-blank if he was looking over his shoulder so-to-speak.
“Not at all. I hope to be here for the long term. And I hope that Pierre McGuire is part of my team for the long term. We all want ambitious people and people that are driven to work with us. There’s no denying the fact that Pierre is ambitious and driven. And that only makes us a better team and that also makes me a better general manager. The one thing; I never worry about my contract. If you start worrying about the decisions you’re going to make and your contract, you’re not helping the organization,” said Dorion.
How the duo will mesh remains to be seen. There’s no doubt, fans will have a good idea in the days ahead.
Contract buyouts, Expansion Draft, Entry Draft, and free agency are all on the league’s docket over the following 15 days.