Pierre McGuire, a former NHL head coach and long-time hockey analyst, was in town on Wednesday, serving as color analyst for the TSN broadcast of the Wild vs. the Canucks. In addition to TSN, McGuire provides insight for NBC NHL broadcasts, Outdoor Life Network NHL broadcasts, and serves as a Sports Illustrated Insider. He will also be covering the NHLers in Italy during the 2006 Winter Olympics for NBC Sports.
McGuire agreed to sit down with Wild.com and answer 10 questions about the hockey's bright future, his time with the legendary Scotty Bowman and of course, his thoughts on the Minnesota Wild.
Because he was so kind to us, we let him have the tenth question for free. So here are nine questions and nine answers with Hockey Insider, Pierre McGuire.
After just one week of regular season play, what has jumped out at you most about the "New NHL?"
The two-line passes and the odd-man rushes. The infrequency of whistles. The ability for teams to come back, especially in the third period. The ebb and flow of the game is tremendous. I think the speed is what impresses me the most.
So, obviously, you feel the new rules have accomplished what the NHL wanted them to?
Yes. It's opened the game up and it's put a lot of stress on the defensemen. We've taken a little bit of the coaching out of the game in terms of defensive structure. We've created more of an ability for mistakes to be made. With mistakes comes excitement so it's good and it's really worked out well. The League should be proud of what they've done.
You've coached with Scotty Bowman. What did you take out of your time with him?
The attention to detail and the importance of preparation. Making sure you held players accountable. Making sure they practice the way they play and play the way they practice. The importance of understanding time zone travel. The importance of running a bench and knowing how to orchestrate lines.
He's a brilliant man. He could have been a lawyer or a doctor. He could have been anything he wanted but he chose to be a hockey coach. He's the best hockey coach that ever lived.
Give us the number one headline in the NHL after Week One.
Sidney Crosby really is as good as everyone says he is. He's been spectacular. When you watch him play, you get a taste of just how great he is going to be. He can take players one-on-one, he can score with ease, he's a phenomenal passer, he's not a defensive liability. Sidney is as good as advertised.
The other thing, in addition to Sidney, is the amount of good, young players in the League. It's awesome to see. In Minnesota, you have Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and you go around the League and look at the young players and you know a lot of them are going to be great for a long time.
Is this the start of the next new age of superstars?
In the history of the League, we've never had an Alexander Ovechkin, a Sidney Crosby, and next year a Phil Kessel come in the League in three straight years. It's an unbelievable story. So, the talent pool is high and we don't even talk about guys like (Anaheim's) Ryan Getzlaf and Joffrey Lupul, (Calgary's) Dion Phaneuf, (Philadelphia's) Jeff Carter or Mike Richards. The thing is that there are so many good young ones, and finally the expansion has made the Americans a sleeping giant in hockey. The non-traditional hockey markets is paying dividends. We're starting to see players develop in Texas, California, Florida and all over the United States.
It's great because the more athletes that are playing, the better the game is going to be. Yes, the next wave of players is absolutely spectacular.
You'll see a big rivalry tonight, but you've been around. What is the best rivalry in hockey right now?
Ottawa and Toronto is very good. Vancouver and Calgary is very strong. Edmonton and Calgary is very strong. L.A. and Anaheim is huge. There's lots of good rivalries, but if I had to pick one, I'd say Ottawa and and Toronto. It's mayhem on ice and it's all good too.
You'll be in Italy in February covering the Olympics. It's a ways off, but is there anyone that has a chance to unseat Canada for the Gold?
It would be really hard for anybody to beat Canada. I think the Czech Republic is extremely talented. It will be interesting to see if Dominik Hasek or Tomas Vokoun plays in net. But they'll have a very good team. The problem for the Swedes is in goal. The Finns are a team that you never know because their goaltending is so good and they've got a lot of unsung leaders. You never know with Team USA, but I don't think they are overly strong in goal compared to Brodeur of Luongo for Canada.
I just don't see anybody beating Canada. I was just at the Canadian evaluation camp. Oh my goodness are they good! It's scary to see how good they are and they're only going to get better.
What is your take on the Minnesota Wild in year five of the club's existence?
Fantastic! Overwhelmingly professional. So well managed. So well coached. The speed factor of their team makes them very fun to watch. The building and the atmosphere is great. The fans here are unbelievably supportive.
I love coming here. This is hockey country. These people understand the sport. They care about the NHL. And they do it right.
I have so much respect for Doug Risebrough, Jacques Lemaire and Mario Tremblay. These guys are Stanley Cup champs and they are champion people. That's one of the reasons why the product is so strong.
Finally, what do we look forward to for the rest of the season?
Unsung teams being great. The Nashville Predators being awesome. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks being tremendous. Atlanta Thrashers really coming on. The Florida Panthers being a difficult team to play against.
I think the thing we're going to have is so much parity, that we're going to have tight races to the end. There are going to be some teams that miss the playoffs by two or three points, and the big reason will be because of losing shootouts.
So going forward, it's really important that you have a brilliant general manager surrounded by great scouts, an unbelievably intelligent and well-orchestrated coaching staff, but the big thing you need is a goalie that can play up to 65 games a year and be great in shootouts.