NHL 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