Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Are the Wild seriously considering Pierre McGuire?

The media has reported that Pierre McGuire has been short listed for the general manager's job in Minnesota. The other candidates mentioned are Pittsburgh Assistant GM Chuck Fletcher, former Leaf GM/Coach Pat Quinn, Nashvillie Assistant GM Paul Fenton and Minnesota Assistant GM Tom Lynn.

Many people I've spoken to are intrigued by the possibility of McGuire managing the Wild. I'm just not one of them. The GM job in the NHL has become very complicated. Just read the collective agreement and you'll know what I mean. It's over 450 pages. You need to be a lawyer to understand it. Actually a growing number of GMs are lawyers (Brian Burke, Scott Howson, Peter Chiarelli, Ray Shero and Dean Lombardi) and there just as many assistants who are also lawyers. Meanwhile fewer and fewer GMs have playing experience in the NHL. Twenty years ago most GMs had played in the NHL at one time.

So what does it take to be a GM in the NHL? Well it appears a good business acumen. Many GMs were previously assistants either in their current organization or with another team. A smaller number jumped from being player agents to the front office. But you could argue that they have a good exposure to the business side of the game representing players.

That brings me back to Pierre McGuire. As a broadcaster he gives the impression that he is very knowledgeable about the game. He has seen enough hockey in his life to be an expert but what experience does he have running a business? None. He has had minimal experience on the management side. In 1991 he was hired by Scotty Bowman as a scout with Pittsburgh and the following year made an assistant coach. In 1993-94 he coached Hartford to a dismal 23-37-7 record. For the past 15 years he has been up in the broadcast booth which is miles away from the executive offices of an NHL franchise. Remember the short lived experiment of Barry Melrose as coach of the Lightning. I suspect McGuire wouldn't do much better.