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Is Pierre McGuire ‘terrible?’ You bet, but he’s wonderfully terrible, and that’s the problem

This is coming from multiple sources on Twitter--a bunch of smart people in both the mainstream media and the blogosphere--but this quip from NBC Sports' executive producer Sam Flood, as noted by Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, is more than a little bit surprising:

• Pierre McGuire's work has drawn very loud supporters and detractors, even though his position in the broadcast would suggest neutrality. Does NBC consider him a polarizing broadcaster? Said Flood: "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."

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.

I don't believe that that's who Pierre McGuire really is, but his incredibly energetic and observant nature bumps up against two equally incredibly strong personalities in Eddie Olczyk and Mike Emrick--and Emrick is his own broadcaster and color commentator in one thanks to his minor-league upbringing--so the resulting broadcasting mix feels like a combination of, "Screw what's happening on the ice, let's tell a compelling story about Bob-Fred McSkatesalot of the Poughkipsee Pioneers from 19-ought-eight" an incredibly annoying insistence that players and coaches may make mistakes, but that the officials can do no wrong, and this almost violent-at-times thrashing as the three dominant personalities attempt to tear the narrative from one another, building a crescendo of over-the-top excitement and observation that feels like a confluent clusterfuck of self-important pomposity.

Quite frankly, the fact that Emrick is the Devils' play-by-play man and a former Pittsburgh employee, and that Olczyk's the Blackhawks' TV color commentator often adds to fans' ire as they find the gents often calling games against the aforementioned teams' rivals, and rightly or wrongly, the perception of bias is applied to McGuire as well.

It's obviously not intentional, but I end up feeling like I'm listening to three grown men gush about how the game as if it were Twilight, and once things start building and building and building, there are no brakes on the runaway train (and the fact that NBC sends its audience to an equally bombastic and enthusiastic intermission crew in Keith Jones, Mike Milbury and Jeremy "J.R. is J.R." Roenick can feel like strapping a set of afterburning jet engines to the passionate-observation-turned-pompous-blathering train).

Even the "best in the business" can improve their "games," and a little more willingess by all three broadcasters to share the microphone and not let their enthusiasm take them to a viewer-defined, "Dude, that was just WEIRD" level of excitement would be far less off-putting and a more pleasant experience for fans and broadcasters alike.

It's easy to say that, "Pierre McGuire sucks," even using my own name. It's not as easy to offer some constructive criticism, nor is it easy to admit that McGuire is in fact both "terrible" and one of the best analysts in the NHL at the same time.

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NIVO's avatar

I really miss Gary Thorne and Bill Clemente. Loved Gary Thorne calling hockey on ESPN. Still my favorite.

Posted by Marisabel on 06/12/13 at 03:49 PM ET

BINGO! Get em on NBCS and things will improve tremendously.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 06/12/13 at 05:14 PM ET

cainer4wingsglory's avatar

Belle Tire Girl first burst on to the scene….  (By the way, she’s still looking good after all these years!)

Really? Last time I was lucky to get an FSN Detroit feed on my Centre Ice I remember thinking, “damn, time has not been good to that Belle Tire chick”.

I think Doc Emmerick is fantastic.  Best play-by-play guy in NHL (including CBC).

Again, really?? The best? We must be watching two different Doc Emrick’s because the one I watch blathers on non-stop, 50% of which has nothing to do with the game at hand. To each their own though, I suppose…

Posted by cainer4wingsglory on 06/12/13 at 05:24 PM ET

Figaro's avatar

Again, really?? The best? We must be watching two different Doc Emrick’s because the one I watch blathers on non-stop, 50% of which has nothing to do with the game at hand. To each their own though, I suppose…

Doc knows that the more he talks, the less Pierre and Edzo can.  He’s rambling on for the betterment of America.

Posted by Figaro from Los Alamos, NM on 06/12/13 at 05:31 PM ET

Bugsy's avatar

Sincere question:
Recent article about Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, who is bombastic and even more of a target that Pierre, supposedly is well-spoken, composed and intelligent off the air, the opposite of what he appears sometimes on ESPN.
Is it possible that NBC is asking/suggesting to Pierre to be MORE enthusiastic on the air? With NBC semi-desperate to get ratings, I would expect a bit over-the-top presentation for trying to “excite” viewers, to draw in the more casual viewer (rightly or wrongly). The core fans (who as noted, long more for CBC in general) may not be NBC’s focus right now. Just a theory.
For what it’s worth, I like Emrick, but not my favorite. I’m not sure what to think about Eddie O anymore, and Pierre is a bit much, but if I had to choose between being overexcited (a la Dick Vitale or even Daniels) or underexcited, I’d rather take the sincere over the top enthusiasm. However, as noted above, I’d rather have Thorne and Clement or at least Strader/Engblom/Pang (who is, as noted above, more middle of the road).

Posted by Bugsy on 06/12/13 at 08:14 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.