Debating the Merits of Pierre McGuire As the Next GM

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Thanks to posts by Erin Nicks and Sens Chirp, for the past week, much has been made of the rumours that Pierre McGuire, is making his intentions known that he would relish the opportunity to become a General Manager in the NHL.

As part of his weekday morning routine, he joined the Team 1200‘s Three Guys in the Morning program and addressed the circumstances that would be needed for him to leave his analyst job at TSN.

“It has to be the right opportunity. There was one in particular, actually that I had a chance to take. If I really wanted it, I could have had it and it just wasn’t the right situation. It’s got to be really good. Preferably a hockey market. Preferably a Canadian hockey market and preferably a place where people appreciate the sport. I would be interested and my bosses at TSN know that but they also know that I have said no to one that wasn’t formally offered…”

On the subject of potential availabilities that are out there that he would be interested in: 

“No you can’t really say that cause there are people that are employed in certain situations that you really respect. There are only 30 jobs in the league and the one thing I really respect are the guys that do work in those jobs. Whether the fans believe it or not, these guys aren’t trying to lose. These guys are trying their best to make a lot of these situations work. I know because I’ve been in it and it’s a lot more difficult than it’s perceived to be. I respect everybody that works in their job, so for me to speculate ‘I want this one’ or ‘I want that one’ that’s wrong. One things opens up and all bets are off but until that point, I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about it.”

Pierre isn’t stupid. If memory serves me correctly, the job that he allegedly turned down was the Minnesota Wild gig that went to Chuck Fletcher. As he alluded to in his comments, he’s not going to take any job. And considering that he wants to work in a Canadian hockey market wherein he’ll have to navigate a franchise that has a knowledgeable fan base that will heavily scrutinize every move, he’s not going to enter into a situation that doesn’t a good base to build upon. Because of his employment at TSN, he is viewed as a bit of a hockey encyclopedia of knowledge, so he knows his reputation is at stake here.

As we mentioned during last night’s podcast recording, if you look at the number of Canadian franchises in the NHL, there are only two in which the general managers could be considered on the hot seat – Calgary and Ottawa. Many pundits believe that former general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning and current assistant general manager of the Flames, Jay Feaster, is the heir apparent to Darryl Sutter’s job in the event that he gets fired. So one has to wonder whether or not Ottawa is a possible destination for McGuire.

Considering that Ottawa’s farm system is stocked at the goaltending and defence positions and that there is a large amount of cap space created this summer, there is a good base to work with here in Ottawa.

Make no mistake, McGuire isn’t like a Peter Gammons, a Chris Mortensen or a Steven A. Smith. He has been a pro scout and an assistant coach at the NHL level. The fact that he has experience working with Scotty Bowman and is a proponent for the way in which the Blackhawks built their team looks good on paper but can or will he surround himself with the right group of people who can offer some business acumen? Especially for someone as far removed from working within a professional hockey environment as he is?

Obviously one of the first concerns that comes to mind when trying to assess McGuire is a viable candidate for a job is whether someone who’s been as far removed from employment with a NHL organization is capable of handling the rigours of dealing with the player personnel decisions that need to be made at the NHL level. Judging by his comments, he is saying the right things.

“It’s a ton harder. You can’t buy your way out of mistakes now. You used to be able to buy your way out of mistakes and that allowed you to make drafting errors or trading errors. Especially if you were big budget. Or you could just say that you’re not going to put any resources into research and development, meaning scouting and development. We’re just going to allow our pro scouts to go out there sign the biggest name players available and we’ll just throw money at them. That’s not the hard way to manage. That’s an easy way to manage. The hard way to manage is to make good, prudent decisions when it comes to scouting, when it comes to drafting, when it comes to developing, when it comes to saying to a player we know you have the potential to become a unrestricted free agent, here’s our offer. Should you choose to accept it, we’ll be thrilled to death. If you’re not thrilled to accept it, we will move you or we’re not going to sign you. And that’s the art of managing today: it’s understanding which players you want to keep and pay top dollar and which players you’re prepared to say goodbye to. And you better have a real refined and finite eye when it comes to making those decisions because if you don’t, you’re not going to be successful.”

The finite eye comment really struck me as something that’s pertinent with what has plagued the Senators this season. For whatever reason or reasons, this veteran laden Senators lineup has underachieved and heading into this upcoming offseason, there will be some tough decisions to make. When asked by the hosts of TGOR what the Dallas Stars should do with their impending UFA Brad Richards, here’s what he said.

“If I couldn’t get someone to commit dollars to me with Brad Richards, I would probably call his agents Don Meehan and Patrick Morris at Newport Sports and say, okay, here’s where I can go with this. If you’re not interested in doing something now, then we’re going to move him now because I’m not losing him for nothing. At some point, you’re going to have to move him, probably to an established marketplace more than anything else with him. There would be a ton of teams who would want him, especially as an unrestricted. Some people would say well he’s not worth that much because he’s an unrestricted so it’s more of a rental. But look at what Marian Hossa brought the Atlanta Thrashers. When it’s all said and done, it brought them a huge bounty. And Pittsburgh couldn’t keep him so some people would shy away from that, but Brad Richards is a special player.”

Prior to listening to Pierre’s interview, I was kind of freaked out at the prospect that he could possibly be a successor to Bryan Murray’s position, but I don’t feel as bad about it as I used to. Sure, Pierre’s still the guy who thought Brian Lee was a decent first round pick who could eventually succeed Wade Redden as Ottawa’s premier puck moving defenceman. But after weeks of listening to the current management brain trust say that it’s completely unrealistic for the organization to make a move that doesn’t match dollar for dollar and then to see the Avalanche move Scott Hannan ($4.5 million) for Tomas Fleischmann ($2.6 million), I’m ready for a change.

Whether it’s Pierre or someone else…

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