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Five Questions With...

Five Questions: McGuire talks Stamkos, Blues

NBC commentator also addresses Wild's upcoming Stadium Series game

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news. 

The latest edition features NBC broadcaster Pierre McGuire: 

If you care about the game and have some time to talk hockey, hockey of any kind really, Pierre McGuire will be waiting with perked ears and an opinion on just about every topic that piques your interest.

He might be considered a polarizing figure in the game for his unique style, but McGuire, the man "Inside the Glass" on NBC's premier broadcast team with Mike "Doc" Emrick and Eddie Olczyk, knows this game, this League, these players, coaches and managers as well or better than anyone else. 
  
McGuire, who is in St. Louis to help call the game between St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars on Tuesday at Scottrade Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN), delivered some of his insight in a Q&A with NHL.com. The topics ranged from Steven Stamkos to outdoor hockey in Minnesota, which will be on display at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, when the Minnesota Wild host the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC). 
  
Here are Five Questions with … Pierre McGuire: 
  
There was news Monday that Steve Yzerman came out and said in a statement he's not trading Steven Stamkos and the goal remains to get him signed. What do you think about Steve saying that on Feb. 15, trying to put it all to rest I guess?
  
"First of all, I think the Tampa Bay Lightning have handled this negotiation unbelievably well. You haven't seen any acrimonious statements in the media at all. I also think that Newport Sports Management and Don Meehan and his people have handled it well. Steven has been caught in the middle. He's the guy that has to live with the media every single day and I think Steven has handled it well. If you're checking the boxes on all these things, I think all three parties have handled this fantastically well. The fact that he said, 'We're not trading him,' I'm not surprised by that at all. He's an amazing asset. He's a big part of what they're trying to be. He's the face of the franchise and quite frankly going forward with their group, where else would he get a better chance to win the Stanley Cup where he can fit in cap-wise? Probably not too many places, so Tampa is probably the best spot for him. I know that he really respects his teammates and I know his teammates really respect him. I would be shocked if he didn't stay in Tampa, but stranger things have happened."

Video: NHL Tonight: Talking Steven Stamkos
  
So you're in St. Louis now, prepping to do the game between the Blues and Stars. What is your take on the Blues, because to me they're one of the hardest teams to figure out? Do you think this is a team that can get over the hump this year or is it going to be same old, same old with them? 
  
"I think they can get over the hump. I was really impressed with Brian Elliott [Sunday] night and the way he played against Tampa. Obviously the question marks are going to be there on the goaltending, whether it's Brian Elliott or Jake Allen. Until either one of them win, there is always going to be that goaltending question. But the way they're built, lines one through four, and now getting Jaden Schwartz back, it's huge. One of the problems is the style they play is such an unforgiving style and it makes you wonder if they can last through the grind of a playoffs. That's the question that's going to be hard for them to answer until they get in and see who they play in the first round. They've always had these smash mouth series that have been so unfortunate for them. Whether it be with Los Angeles or Chicago, they've had terrible first-round matchups. Last year they had one that was friendlier with Minnesota, and they just couldn't get a good start in the series, so they eventually lost it. I think the way they're built is great, but they have to prove it with their goaltending and if that grinding style can keep enough of their guys healthy. 
  
"You look at it now, and it could be Chicago or Dallas, and in that scenario you probably don't want to play Chicago. You'd probably prefer to play a team like Dallas, a swift team that is very good with the puck, an offensive team but a team that has some holes on the back end and is a team that is still going through its building. I think Jim Nill has done a great job there, but they're still far from being complete and they know that, especially on defense.

So let's talk about the Stars, who you will also see Tuesday night. Do you think they need to just add some depth on defense, or do they need to add a top-pair guy that might be too hard to get at this point? 
  
"If they could add a guy who could be a 2-3 on defense, I think it would be huge for them. It would take some pressure off of Alex Goligoski and it would take some pressure off of Johnny Oduya. If they could add one guy that could fit into the 2-3 hole that would change the batting order a little on the back end and that would help them. The focus in the playoffs will be on Klingberg and I think everybody knows that, so for him it's the first time he'll go through that and it's not an easy thing to do. So if they can get a guy who has higher end skill to help them that would be really beneficial. Jim Nill's a really sharp guy. He knows that."

Video: CBJ@DAL: Goligoski buries rebound off end boards
  
Let's talk Minnesota for two questions, and let's keep the first one positive. The Stadium Series game is there this Sunday. You've done these games a lot, all of them in the U.S., I think. Do you still get jacked up to do these outdoor games and does the Minnesota spin on this add some intrigue and nostalgia for you because even though you're not from there, you know the history of hockey, particularly outdoor hockey, in Minnesota? 
  
"I'm so excited. They never get old for me. I'm very excited that it's in the State of Hockey. The fans are phenomenal there. The passion for the sport is great. The first times I started going out there was to watch the Minnesota High School tournament, going to the Maroon and Gold up in Grand Rapids, not Michigan, Minnesota. I've seen so many good players over time. I think the biggest thing that I like is the tradition of Minnesota hockey. I love what they have at the Xcel Energy Center with all the high school sweaters posted on the wall. That never gets old. I go there, walk around and look at them every time. I think about going up to Warroad or going to Cloquet or going to Virginia, being up in the Thief River Falls, all these different places I've been over the time of my hockey life. I just love going there. It's an awesome place. This will be a great one, plus the venue will be spectacular. I'm really into the football venues. I thought this year at Gillette Stadium we had a phenomenal venue and I think it'll be just as good at the University of Minnesota. It seems in the football venues people are right on top of you, whereas in the baseball venues it's really spread out and not everybody has a great seat to see. But in the football venues everybody is right on top of the action and the noise cascades down on you. In the baseball venues, the noise kind of dissipates. It kind of blows out of the rink. So, yeah, I'm excited. And Chicago-Minnesota is never boring." 
  
OK, now the bad. I know Mike Yeo has taken the hit on this with John Torchetti in now, but what do you think has happened to the Wild this season?
  
"Let's not forget it's been three years now that they've had this kind of run. If you go back two seasons ago, Minnesota was touch and go to make the playoffs and they eventually made it. Last year, if you remember, until they got Devan Dubnyk and Mike Yeo threw a five-star nutty, they were a team that was completely collapsing. So it's not like they've been a juggernaut. They've been a good team that hasn't achieved to the level they should. They've got some very, very good assets there. One thing I do think is they're not hard enough. When you play a game against Minnesota, I don't know how many guys come out of that game saying, 'Man, I'm really beat up.' When they're on their game they're smart, they use their sticks well, they transition the puck well, but they're not going to overwhelm you physically. They're not going to be a crushing kind of team like Los Angeles and St. Louis. I think Minnesota is still searching for an identity. They're trying to figure out what kind of team they're going to be. That's one of the hardest things when you're building an organization is deciding what kind of team you're going to be and going out and getting those players once you've decided. I think that's been part of the problem. But what is interesting is I did some of their games early in the year when I was like, 'Boy, these guys are good.' I was thinking that maybe they figured it out, that they decided the kind of team they're going to be. But Zach [Parise] got hurt, things started to unravel, they weren't getting the same kind of saves and the pressure went right on to Mike, which isn't always fair. But coaches know it's not always going to be fair at the end. It never is."

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