Fact: Pierre McGuire is one of the smartest, sharpest media-member hockey minds not only in the game today, but arguably in the history of the sport.
Fact: Pierre McGuire is unquestionably one of the most awkward hockey journalists of all-time.
McGuire began his career in the sport, as a coach, scout and manager, winning two Stanley Cups as an assistant coach in 1991 and 1992. McGuire joined the media ranks in the late '90s, and over the years has established himself as a respected, logical and astute hockey analyst. It's what landed him a likely seven-figure salary with NBC and what has him on the air at various points throughout the week on sports talk-shows across the continent.
While McGuire has the uncanny ability to recall the most minute of details about a player, he also has a knack for putting himself in incredibly awkward - and sometimes embarrassing - situations. No matter how smart of a hockey mind McGuire may be, he is more often ridiculed for particular situations in interviews or on the air than he is lauded for his hockey brilliance.
For the most part, it is all in good fun, and McGuire seems like the kind of guy who can take a joke and roll with the punch, but for some it has become an all-out assault on McGuire's credibility, knowledge and character. It's highly doubtful that any of this has ever bothered McGuire for more than a second - after all, 99% of hardcore hockey fans would kill for his job - but at a certain point good ol' Pierre might want to take a hint from the Internet trolls and tone it down a notch when it comes to behind-the-bench interviews or when he's talking about how much he loves a certain player.
15 Stuck in the Middle
As NBC's top analyst and with NBC having the American national television rights to NHL games, Pierre often finds himself between the benches for some of the best contests on the slate on any given night - and even more so during the playoffs. Pierre got the best seat in the house for the epic brawl between the Flyers and Penguins in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, and during the melee got caught in the middle of quite the heated discussion between Penguins assistant Tony Granato and Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. Pierre stands and looks up helplessly throughout most of the exchange, leaning on the mute button, and perhaps hoping the coaches would tumble into his booth and start throwing punches.
14 Subby Plants a Kiss
The scene: the Montreal Canadiens have improbably taken down their long-time rival Boston Bruins in a hard-fought seven game series. The jubilant Canadiens stars are doing the post-game interview rounds, the most notable being P.K. Subban, the Habs eccentric blueliner having candid chats with any reporter who approached. Pierre, of course, gets his two minutes with Subban, and the interview ends with Subban planting a big kiss on McGuire's head.
Not that awkward, really - Subban is a fun-loving guy and probably kisses people on the cheek all the time. It gets awkward when you head (and see) Pierre's reaction to the moment.
13 Pierre and Babcock Talk "Heavy"
Pierre is often afforded a couple of seconds during commercial breaks to conduct perhaps the most useless interview in all of sports - the "Behind the Bench Coach Interview That Reveals Nothing." Many of these quick hits with the bench bosses are a mind-numbing waste of twenty seconds for everyone involved in the process, right up to the cameraman who has to zoom in on the reporter and coach for the duration of the chat.
Sometimes, though, we get golden nuggets like this one between then Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock and Pierre, who get into a philosophical/educational/wackjob-inspired discussion about "heaviness in hockey."
Rumor has it their thesis on the topic will be published at some point during this summer.
12 Pierre and Big Buff
Pierre is undoubtedly the King of Awkward Interviews. There's no one who comes close in the hockey media today - he's in a class of his own. A reporter could interview a player with his pants around his ankles, hammered out of his mind, and it still wouldn't come close to matching an awkward Pierre interview.
One of Pierre's classics was a brief chat with Dustin Byfuglien in the lead-up to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. Observe and appreciate the awkwardness.
11 Pierre and the Big Burly Man
Sometimes, we wonder if NBC should invest in either a filter, better tape delay technology, or a Pierre translator. A lot of the time, you know exactly what Pierre is trying to get across, but he often finds a way to make it overtly sexual, strange, or downright creepy. Maybe with some coaching, or a bit of an assist from a producer every once in a while, Pierre would cut down on the awkwardness. Here's a classic example of Pierre taking his description of someone on the ice waaaaay to far.
10 "Goals Are Fun!"
If Pierre ever becomes the host of his own children's hockey-themed show (highly unlikely), this will be the title.
Another thing: if you thought trying to get something out of coaches during in-game interviews was hard, imagine trying to get anything out of a professional athlete during a game. The phrase "in a zone" doesn't do justice to the head-space an athlete is in during a game. Apparently, one of the few things that can break a hockey player's concentration during a heated contest is having Pierre yell blatantly obvious sentences into your ear for no apparent reason.
Side note: this video might explain why almost every arena in the league has a sequestered booth for between-the-bench analysts.
9 Marty Turco Disapproves of Pierre
One of the few instances on this list, or otherwise, where Pierre is the "second-fiddle" to an awkward moment. It must have been awkward for Pierre to watch this video after the fact, but then again, by this time Marty Turco was a essentially a bench-warmer, while Pierre was continuing to rise through the hockey ranks, as he began to get consideration for GM jobs around the league.
Still, it's pretty weird to see a guy mocking you on live television inches away from you, while you are oblivious and helpless to what is going on.
8 Dustin Tokarski Makes Pierre Lose his Mind
We get it - broadcasters are prone to getting incredibly excited after a remarkable on-ice feat. It's natural. It's what the viewers want, too. No one likes a commentator who calls an incredible save the same way he would describe an icing.
But there's a certain level of excitement that is expected...and then there is what Pierre does after seeing Dustin Tokarski's remarkable save on Colin Wilson during the World Junior Championships during the traditional Canada-USA New Year's Eve matchup (the eve of 2009).
There's no reason to try and describe Pierre's reaction. Watch and enjoy.
7 Pierre Plugs Depends
There's probably a reason why Pierre isn't affiliated to any brands, products or anything else that might need a spokesperson or "face of the company" (other than NBC, of course). This list alone might explain why Pierre doesn't feature in prominent commercials or otherwise promote anything in consumer America - but it doesn't stop Pierre from plugging products during live broadcasts.
In typical Pierre fashion, the product he decides to plug here are...adult diapers.
6 Double Dion
With any other broadcaster, this might have been as awkward as it gets. With Pierre McGuire, this only scratches the surface of his awkwardness.
The 2005 Canadian World Junior Championship roster was arguably one of the greatest junior hockey teams ever assembled - largely thanks to the NHL lockout. Future superstars like Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf and Shea Weber donned the red maple leaf that winter, as the Canadians cruised to gold.
Another prominent member of that team was current Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf was a force throughout the tournament, but his play is never what is remembered from the '05 tournament.
It always comes back to the Double Dion. Thanks, Pierre.
5 Pierre Thinks Price Pick Isn’t a Fit
To be fair, this moment only lands on the awkward moments list in hindsight. If Carey Price had flopped, or never made the NHL, or had even been traded by the Habs, Pierre gets away with the comments he made during the first round of the 2005 NHL Draft. The Habs were fairly well off in nets at the time, with the likes of Jose Theodore, Cristobal Huet manning the fort in Montreal, and several decent prospects already in the system.
When the name Carey Price was announced by Canadiens director of scouting Trevor Timmins, Pierre absolutely went off on the Canadiens management.
Turns out they were right about Price, which means another awkward McGuire Moment for the rest of us.
4 Pierre Kills the Eberle Goal
The remarkable game-tying goal Jordan Eberle scored during the final seconds of the epic World Junior Championship battle between Canada and Russia in 2009 is one of the greatest goals in Canadian hockey history. It's right up there with Henderson's '72 goal and Crosby's 2010 Olympic gold medal clincher.
In the two other instances, the broadcasters did what they were supposed to do - shut up and let the moment do the talking.
In what was one of Pierre's worst moments as a broadcaster, Pierre decides to spend the entire celebration harping on the brilliance of John Tavares' board-play, rather than allowing the crowd noise and the sheer improbability of the moment wash over the viewer the way it should have.
Back then, it was just annoying. Today, it's cringe-worthy.
3 Pierre’s Weird Relationship with Sidney
Since the day Sidney Crosby stepped into the hockey spotlight as a teenager, Pierre has been right there, like a creepy photo-bomber who tags along with a couple and jumps in the background of all their romantic photographs.
If there was a Sidney Crosby trivia board game, Pierre would be the undisputed world champion. While he doesn't have that official title (thanks to the lack of said board game), he'll have to settle for "King of the Awkward Crosby Quote." Here's a small sample size:
"The pictures don't lie. So just digest the pictures and the artistry."
"He does it sooo many different ways."
"How about that strength down low? Wow."
You can see the whole list here, compiled by Greg Wyshynski here and by the way, they're all from one night.
2 Of All People for Pierre to Piss Off...
Even if you were a casual hockey fan during the '80s and '90s, you knew a couple of things about Rob Ray: one, you don't piss him off. Two, you don't startle him. Three, you don't invade his personal space.
Pierre managed to do all three of those things in one swift motion while the two were stuck between the benches during a Buffalo Sabres game several years back. Ray, as you'll see, was not amused, and he looked like he had half a mind to clock McGuire right there.
Pierre, meanwhile...well, you know. He made it awkward. As usual.
1 The Long Stick
There's not much that can be said about this particular moment. It might just be the most awkward moment in hockey broadcast history. There's no logical way to rationalize the words that spilled out of Pierre McGuire's mouth on that day, as he inexplicably stood mere inches away from Darren Dutchyshen's face.
How Pierre managed to push through this incident and continue to ascend through the hockey media ranks is beyond us. It's a testament to him being the sport's official walking encyclopedia - because if anyone else had said something like this on live television, it might have been the very last thing they would say on TV for the rest of their life.