Why Pierre McGuire probably wasn't asking Henrik Zetterberg for an on-camera interview


Why something seems fishy about hockey's current favorite meme.

Pierre McGuire is a lightning rod for a lot of hockey fans. There's little doubt that he's as knowledgeable about the game of hockey as anyone out there. However, many of them are not fans of how he conveys the game from his position in between the benches. The internet is often painfully meticulous, so the idiosyncratic moments during a hockey game, from the action on the ice to the broadcasting, is constantly overanalyzed and often a subject of mockery.

Whether he's sometimes asking "Doc n' Edzo" (Mike Emrick and Eddie Olczyk, his booth partners) a question, or how it often sounds like he's broadcasting from a war zone rather than a hockey game, or even his pregame interviews, which feature something as simple as him telling a player to "go have some fun out there." Twitter is a cruel place for any broadcaster, particularly one who doesn't tread in snark or cynicism, which McGuire emphatically doesn't.

I personally have never spoken to McGuire (I did an email interview with him years and years ago on the old site), but I have never met anyone who spoke ill of the man personally. My personal take on McGuire is that his hockey knowledge is probably unparalleled, though I understand and sympathize with the complaints about his overly enthusiastic, often in-your-face style. You can't argue that the man hasn't put in years and years for the game of hockey, however, and it shows at playoff time. He took one day off during Round 1, total.

So let's talk about the thing that set everyone on fire with giddiness from last night. You know what I'm referring to. This:


Red Wings superstar (and lone goal-scorer Henrik Zetterberg) appears to say something, either "No" or "Now?" to McGuire, who takes his IFB out of his ears to ask him something. Zetterberg's apparent annoyance seems to suggest that he turned McGuire down for something, possibly an interview. The Score, Winging it in Motown, Sporting News, and hell, this very website all posited that.

I know it's stupid to turn this into an investigation, but we've got two days without hockey, and it's my birthday, so I'm doing it. I don't think I 100 percent buy that Pierre was asking Hank for an interview here. Why? Well, about a half-decade's worth of NBC protocol is why.

I watch way too much hockey every year because it's part of my job here, and in particular, I watch way too much NBC hockey every year. I know what they do on a game-to-game basis, and I've spoken at various times with the people who produce their telecast behind the scenes. Here's the thing: in-between interviews are not a thing that NBC does, nor has done for many, many years.

NBC's typical hockey broadcast goes like this: Doc setup with Edzo, down to the ice for Pierre's comments. Then Doc will set up Pierre for an interview right before the national anthem. Pierre then gets two interviews during the game. He talks to the head coach of one of the participating teams after the second commercial break in the first and second period. He then does two or three postgame interviews with players on the winning team.

What NBC doesn't do -- which CBC does, and VERSUS before it got taken over by NBC did -- is between-periods interviews with sweaty, tired players. They just don't do it. It hasn't ever been a part of their broadcasts. They'll talk to players before and after games until the cows come home, but NBC's NHL intermission shows are confined entirely to the Stamford, Conn. studios.

So why, pray tell, would Pierre McGuire be asking Henrik Zetterberg for an interview? Look, it's possible he could have just wanted to talk about something off the record and gotten shut down. It's possible that Zetterberg's game-tying goal, which sent Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals to overtime, was enough for NBC to break about eight seasons' worth of protocol to give Hank some airtime. And it's possible that Zetterberg -- who has done many, many interviews with McGuire before -- just didn't feel like talking to Pierre before the pivotal overtime.

But, while the internet's joy at seeing someone possibly "blow off" one of their favorite targets is often funny ... maybe someone ought to ask Zetterberg, or even McGuire himself, what actually happened. Because, again, it doesn't jive with what NBC does. Ever. It's entirely possible that Zetterberg was turning down McGuire for something. But just based on years and years of broadcasts ... it probably wasn't an interview. At least not one on camera.

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