Watching a hockeygame with Pierre McGuire can humble even a seasoned observer; he grasps andbreaks down nuances of the action as if it were unfolding in slow motion. Thatanalytical ability has given McGuire high standing in the NHL community--hisincoming cellphone log is an A list of the game's G.M.'s, coaches andplayers--and is key to what makes McGuire, in his 10th year as an SI specialcontributor, vital to our coverage. "He not only knows the game," saysSI senior writer Michael Farber. "He knows where the bodies areburied."
McGuire worked hisway up from the inside. After a failed tryout as a defenseman with the NewJersey Devils in 1983, the Engelwood, N.J., native went into coaching. He wasat St.¬†Lawrence in the late '80s when a legend walked into his office."I like the way you ran practice," said Scotty Bowman, the NHL'swinningest coach, who was visiting his daughter on campus. "Pierre had sucha passion for the game," Bowman says. "Infectious." McGuire wouldbecome Bowman's top assistant on the 1991-92 Cup-winning Penguins, then spend'93-94 as the NHL's youngest head coach, with the Hartford Whalers.
McGuire caughtSI's ear with his work as a radio commentator for the Canadiens in themid-1990s. "High decibel," recalls Farber, "but he gave you a lotof hard information and opinion based on deep knowledge." In addition tohis regular "In the Crease" column for SI (Scouting Reports, page 69),McGuire is still on air: He'll be the studio host for games on NBC this seasonand remains the network's analyst between the benches, a vantage point fromwhich he took an accidental stick to the noggin from Sabre Ales Kotalik lastseason. "Just keeping my head in the game," McGuire says.
For him hockey hasno off-season. McGuire, who lives in Montreal with his wife, Melanie, and theirkids, Justine, 7, and Ryan, 5, says he's on the road 230 days a year watchinggames and cultivating sources. His energy--to see McGuire on one of hispounding, hourlong treadmill runs is to pity the machine--is why he ranks amongthe league leaders in scoops. During the 2004-05 lockout he was the first todeclare that the players would agree to a salary cap. "I love everythingabout hockey," he says. "The game, but also the people, theculture." That passion will, as always, bring light, and warmth, to thewinter game.
October 7, 2007
To the list of Michael Farber's accomplishments, which include being honored ona plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame, add the 2007 Sportswriter of the Yearaward as chosen by Sports Media Canada. Farber, the magazine's lead hockeywriter, who also often writes baseball features, came to SI from the MontrealGazette. His prose is accessible to the non-hockey fan, unfailingly gracefuland often funny, as is evident in his piece on Sharks center Joe Thornton (page60). And though his opinions resonate--he's a staple on The Hockey News'sannual list of the sport's most influential people--Farber is not overlyimpressed with himself. "I just type," he says.
"I better love hockey," says the former player and coach turned writerand broadcaster. "It's my life."