A time warp has apparently transported the world back to 2008. At least, that's the most logical explanation for NBC Sports' executive producer Sam Flood's comments to SI's Richard Deitsch about critics of Pierre McGuire before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, which sound like they could have come from Buzz Bissinger circa that earlier era:
"I consider Pierre to be the gold standard, The position of being inside the glass was created because of Pierre. His skill set is uniquely suited to telling stories on air. His knowledge of the game and background of every player on the ice is incredible. He is a huge asset. He won an Emmy Award this year for obvious reasons. The sad thing about how society is today is there are a small group of people who shout loud and hide behind blogger names and fraudulent titles and attack people. They attack Cris Collinsworth. They attack Al Michaels. They attack Pierre McGuire. They attack Mike Milbury. They attack Keith Jones. They are a bunch of chickens who hide behind their Twitter names and attack people. Shame on them. If you want to say something, say it with your name behind it. But if you want to hide behind funny little names on the Internet, be my guest. But shame on you."
It's no secret that NBC hockey analyst McGuire has been the target of plenty of criticism from hockey fans over the years. However, writing that criticism off as a product of just those who "shout loud and hide behind blogger names" is insanity in 2013. Some of the most prominent criticism of McGuire has come from the hockey players he interviews, including Henrik Zetterberg rejecting his interview request, Marty Turco's 2011 mockery of him and Mike Commodore tweeting that McGuire "ruins hockey" for him. Even in the media realm, it's far from just anonymous bloggers who bash McGuire. In fact, much of the best criticism of McGuire has come from those willing to use their names. Here's a short selection:
My name is George Malik, and I think that Pierre McGuire is indeed terrible...In no small part because he could be an absolutely fantastic broadcaster if he could dial back his enthusiasm 2 or 3% to not sound like someone who is committing the broadcast equivalent of USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ALL THE TIME ZOMG I'M MANICALLY EXCITED and if he could be a wee bit less chummy during the interviews with players and coaches where he comes off as downright cuddly and, as such, slightly creepy.
McGuire is obviously a brilliant man with a wide and deep breadth of knowledge about and passion for the game of hockey, he's an astute observer, one of THE pioneers of inside-the-glass reporting, and he's witty, he's bombastic, funny and has his pulse on the game...
But without TSN's Gord Miller to provide a "straight man's" foil and to know when to tug at McGuire to pull him back from the heights of his FANGIRL SQUEE excitement, McGuire ends up coming off as this spastic, eccentric-to-bat-shit-insane and plain old creepily nuzzly-snuggly weirdo.
Pierre McGuire was both the most appropriate and the most unfortunate announcer to serve as a color commentator for Crosby's big night; standing between the benches for VERSUS, serving up his usual platter of mistimed trivia and verbal fellation of star players.
McGuire has fawned over the Pittsburgh Penguins captain before, so one anticipated it would happen again if Crosby managed to accomplish anything of significance during his return against the New York Islanders. But a four-point night transformed McGuire into a close-talking hybrid of Paula Abdul and Jeff Craig of "Sixty Second Preview."
This isn’t a Detroit thing or Toronto thing or an American hockey fans don’t understand thing. People everywhere legitimately hate him. So with a number of Red Wings regular season games on the national TV schedule, the only way I’ll be able to watch without focusing on the broadcasting is to answer the question: Why is Pierre McGuire employed? ...
Is he there so fans can talk about how they hate him so much, using the old cliché that any advertising is good advertising? The thing is, no one knows. There hasn’t been a national broadcast without Pierre. Executives have no idea how much better or worse fans see the broadcast.
That can’t be the reason.
Maybe it’s that we know the name. We know who he is. We know he’s creepy. New things scare people. Pierre provides continuity. But new things also change the world. Again, there hasn’t been a Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk broadcast without Pierre. Who knows what would be better or worse?
Toby and Mark Mead, Dirty Dangle Hockey:
It seems as though Pierre McGuire knows where every hockey player was born and knows their grandparents names. His colour commentary is often useless and his love for certain players goes deeper than a mothers love for their child. Perhaps the biggest thing about Pierre are his catchphrases: "monster", "big body presence", "el-kabongo", and "fine young man" are just a few to name. Throw his random knowledge, player boners, and painful catchphrases together and you have a bonafide player ruiner. While he hasn't actually ruined any players careers, he's ruined the way we think about certain players when we hear their names.
No nuance either, every play is either great or terrible and every player is having his best or worst game. There's never no middle ground where 99% of the plays happen and player perform.
What this article and criticizing bloggers fail to mention is Macguire's hindsight analysis. He narrates a replay of a goal like it was a set play and invents strategy and set plays that do not exist. So many things in hockey happen in spontaneous split seconds and he credits the coaches, players and systems for things they simply don't do. He calls a game that no one sees. A viewer wants to be validated for the things they see by the announcer calling the game otherwise they can't relate. In this respect, Pierre alienates the average hockey fan. This is perhaps a subliminal reason he's hated. It's a shame because technically he's incredibly talented. Not many can voice a replay package like he does and he otherwise does know the game very well. Toning down the name dropping, college references (which nobody cares about), useless background info and creepy smugness would make him more tolerable. He just doesn't get it.
It's a sad state of affairs when Mike Milbury is held up to be some kind of paragon of broadcasting.
He could have saved himself a lot of time and hassle if he'd just used the generic "hater" tag. That would have shut the critics up.
Pierre McGuire not only bombards us with constant, useless patter, he also states the blindingly obvious as if he has some insight. For example from last night; "there are too many men playing the puck, and that's why it's too many men on the ice". He is essentially Jason Bateman in Dodge Ball. He is consistently infuriating, providing no analysis whatsoever, and a loudmouth who doesn't realise he actually has nothing to say.
All he needed to do was throw in a "wearing just underwear in their Mom's basement" to complete his ignorant and cliché-ridden rant.
And Sam, here's a hint: circle-jerk awards like The Emmys are not particularly impressive except to pivot-men like you.
Ok, Sam Flood, I'm Laura Taylor (@livefierce on Twitter). Pierre McGuire is a blowhard in love with the sound of his own yelling. I'll mute every game he does.
And the idea that pseudonyms somehow demean criticisms is not only ridiculous, but completely betrays the denial and insecurities of Flood. You want my name? GFYS, I don't need to be accountable to YOU.