While other names are popping up (as forum discussion and now beat reports have mentioned Ron Hextall), there is one candidate whose name has been invoked several times from local and national media sources. A name that's common for those who follow hockey on the national level (and we're talking either nation here - as he pops up on Canadian and American television broadcasts).
Pierre McGuire's name, no matter what kind of feelings it invokes, has been one that continually materialized as a contender for the Bolts vacant GM role.
My question is, why?
No, no, seriously... why? Forget what McGuire has said in the media (and he's said a lot, as he's been involved in it for over a decade). It's his experience as an executive and a hockey person that I'm wondering about. His resume is paper thin when we talk about direct involvement in the sport. From Wikipedia:
McGuire won two Stanley Cups as a scout and assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. He then became a head coach, leading the Hartford Whalers to a 23-37-7 record in 1993-94 before being replaced by Paul Holmgren in the mid-season. Prior to his coaching career, McGuire played professional hockey in Europe. From 1994 to 1996, McGuire worked as a pro scout and assistant coach in the Ottawa Senators organization.
Of course, Pierre has extensive media credentials with writing, television and radio alike. So in that perspective, let's bring in a media-savvy hockey person for comment on McGuire's candidacy from an area of knowledge. Steve Lepore from Puck the Media summarized Pierre's candidacy as thus:
I think that McGuire is clearly nothing if not a "schmoozer" in this business. The man has had as many as three network gigs (in addition to countless radio appearances and a SI column) at the same time in his work as an analyst, and that clearly speaks to him being able to build relationships with people as well as connect him with sources. John Davidson hasn't been a failure running the Blues, so I think some of the logic dictates that it could work. Finally, I think some teams are looking for some new blood instead of just rehashing the same guys, and I think the Lightning - based on some of the candidates that have been bandied about (McGuire, Stevie Y) - are an organization looking to take a chance on someone new.
Yes, fresh faces are indeed in need in this sport. Instead of going back again and again to the same well of talent, at one point or another there is a need to start looking for someone with a new or fresh perspective. McGuire, to his credit, has long been able to observe the sport from a third-party perspective, with having an intimate insight into the game (from what he did experience in his brief trials as scout/coach in the league).
But again, that "fresh" perspective is one of someone directly removed from the game - he has not been a scout for 14 years. And while being a television analyst does give him third-party perspective, it also brands him with where and how he's commented in the past. He's not a beloved individual with the greater public (just check out the numerous anti-McGuire petition sites, or PierreMcguire.com).
With the league itself, however, it's a different story. A media personality (who requested anonymity) pointed out that McGuire has "...Always wanted to go back to (the management) side of it and is well connected in the hockey world. He's a personality in the game that's well known and that helps. He is friendly with some ownership groups out there, namely the one in Montreal, and would have been a candidate to be the Habs GM.
"My guess is Pierre has friends in high places in the league, as many at TSN do, and the league is helping (Vinik) decide who to hire."
Connections certainly would play a part in helping his candidacy along anywhere, as well as respect from the establishment regarding his work in the media (if not from the fans). And of course, Jac Sperling of the Minnesota Wild, is supposed to be the guy working with Vinik when it comes to searching for a CEO and GM for the Bolts. McGuire had been interviewed by the Wild last year after they dismissed Doug Risebrough as GM. He was quoted at the time:
"When you've done media as long as I have, you have a chance to be exposed to a lot of different markets and ideologies as far as how to build a program," McGuire said Wednesday in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "You've also seen the failures and what's gone wrong. It's a chance to evaluate with an unbiased eye what the positives and what the detriments are to building a team. That's what lured me."
The opportunity lured him to Minnesota... And from reports, it's lured him to the Tampa Bay opportunity as well. But is he really the right man for the job?
Last year, Adrian dater of the Denver Post did what he could to argue for McGuire and the Avs GM opening:
After all – can you name me anyone who has seen more NHL games in the last few years than McGuire has most likely? Can you name me a person who has has a more varied menu of personnel he’s spoken to in the last few years – among players and coaches and everybody else in hockey? It’s part of his job description to talk to everybody in the game, and I think it would be smart for any team to consider him.
Interesting way of putting it, but along those lines, tell me who in the NFL has seen more tape and analyzed players more extensively than draft guru Mel Kipper Jr? (I have to admit this is not my own comparison point. It's taken from a Bolt Prospects forum post) I’m not about to suggest Kipper as a head scout or general manager of an NFL team. TV is one thing, running the front office is another one entirely.
If McGuire is looking to find himself a "monster" role to get himself back into the league, he seriously should consider looking for something smaller to begin with (as an assistant GM somewhere). What experience he has, and what knowledge he may have, also comes with the baggage of unpopularity among the fans. Freshness is one thing, proving ones ability is another.