Does Pierre McGuire Have Something Against the Washington Capitals?


opinionNHL games on NBC and NBCSN are common occurrences throughout the 82-game season and while there are a number of different broadcasting teams, none may be more recognizable than that of Mike “Doc” Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire.

Emrick’s enthusiasm on goals and big plays are infectious and Olcyzk’s insightful color commentating complements Emrick quite well. McGuire on the other hand, is a tough nut to crack. What I mean, is that while he knows hockey, he doesn’t know everything. McGuire served as an Assistant General Manager in Pittsburgh and Ottawa, and also spent time as a coach with the Penguins; he won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 1991-92. But personally, I think McGuire has favorites and whenever the Caps are playing, particularly Pittsburgh, McGuire inadvertently lets his favoritism become heard.

While he does compliment Washington on things, they’re usually things he’s already stated and perhaps it’s just me. But this spring during the Capitals’ second-round series against the New York Rangers, McGuire repeatedly stated in Game 7, that he had never seen Alex Ovechkin be as great a leader as he was this past season. And I mean repeated. He must have said it four or five times before commenting how good the Rangers looked on the forecheck. It seems that every highlight Pierre analyzes is for the team not from DC, and Pittsburgh games are where his bias shines the most.

While surfing through YouTube for old Caps-Pens highlights, I came across a full-length game from 2/7/10. I watched it and as soon as the first stoppage in play occurred, McGuire was discussing Ovechkin’s love of the game with Emrick, before commenting: “Ovechkin’s gonna go talk to the Penguins’ bench. And [Penguins Forward] Billy Guerin is going to answer him right back. Ovechkin is still not happy his team lost to the Penguins in seven games last year”. McGuire, of course, was referring to the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs where the Caps lost a second-round series to Sidney Crosby and the Pens. My first thought was: Why and how is that even relevant to a regular season game a year later? It’s comments like these that also distinguish McGuire’s pro-Pittsburgh approach. While he will compliment Washington AND Ovechkin, he (whether on purpose or not) shows favoritism towards Crosby and Pittsburgh; or any team in general, that the Caps are playing. The question then becomes why? Why does Pierre have, if anything, against the Caps? What is it that makes him seem so biased? Only Pierre can answer that question himself, but an incident in the aforementioned game showed the possibility of McGuire having favorites when then-Pens forward Craig Adams shoved Ovechkin head-first into the sideboards and his comments were, for the most part, defensible. But one: “The officials are gonna want to look at that again. That’s bordering on dirty for Craig Adams.” The call was a minor penalty and the Penguins were given a power play after then-Caps right-wing Mike Knuble stepped in to defend Ovi. See for yourself. Do you think it was “borderline dirty?”

Whichever way you slice it, McGuire is going nowhere and whether you like him or  not, he is very knowledgeable about the game. So Caps fans? What are your thoughts?

By Michael Fleetwood

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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11 Responses to Does Pierre McGuire Have Something Against the Washington Capitals?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe you make a good case here but I also think it’s much more than just Pierre. In general, most NHL commentators not affiliated with a specific team seem to favor both the Pens and Crosby over the Caps and Ovie. In some cases it is very pronounced, but most of them are more subtle about it. It is aggravating to us but we’ve also seen it in other sports. Just look at the Cowboys. I guess there’s no such thing as unbiased (at least in sports).

  2. jonmsorensen says:

    Spot on. The next question, why?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Most commentators, except our beloved Joe and Craig, seem to discount the Caps and this will likely continue until that glorious day when the Caps take the Cup. Because if you aren’t the original six or a Cup winner then you are simply second best in their eyes. It’s the truth and I don’t like it anymore than anyone else.

  4. jonmsorensen says:

    I can agree with that. It’s so consistent throughout NBC however, I just wonder if it’s something more.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s because the Caps-Pens rivalry, and Crosby Ovechkin rivalry. Pierre was an assistant coach and GM with them, so it’s easy to see why he may. And the other comments are spot-on too. It seems until Ovi and the boys have the Cup over their heads, no one is going to give Ovi’s improved two-way game any recognition

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not to mention the time he called the caps “crapitals” on live tv

  6. I agree he never says good things about the Caps. I find him doing that a lot on his broadcasts. I know announcers has favorites but you should broadcast fairly

  7. Shirley Valvo says:

    This bias against the Caps seems to be widespread, and is the reason I don’t watch NBCSN or NHLN if I can possibly help it. I understand bias from opposing teams announcers, but these guys are on national platforms and should be calling the games fairly.

  8. jonmsorensen says:

    Well said, Shirley!

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