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Watching a hockey game with Pierre McGuire can humble even a seasoned observer; he grasps and breaks down nuances of the action as if it were unfolding in slow motion. That analytical ability has given McGuire high standing in the NHL community--his incoming cellphone log is an A list of the game's G.M.'s, coaches and players--and is key to what makes McGuire, in his 10th year as an SI special contributor, vital to our coverage. "He not only knows the game," says SI senior writer Michael Farber. "He knows where the bodies are buried."
McGuire worked his way up from the inside. After a failed tryout as a defenseman with the New Jersey Devils in 1983, the Engelwood, N.J., native went into coaching. He was at 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's winningest coach, who was visiting his daughter on campus. "Pierre had such a passion for the game," Bowman says. "Infectious." McGuire would become 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 caught SI's ear with his work as a radio commentator for the Canadiens in the mid-1990s. "High decibel," recalls Farber, "but he gave you a lot of hard information and opinion based on deep knowledge." In addition to his 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 season and remains the network's analyst between the benches, a vantage point from which he took an accidental stick to the noggin from Sabre Ales Kotalik last season. "Just keeping my head in the game," McGuire says.
For him hockey has
no off-season. McGuire, who lives in Montreal with his wife, Melanie, and their
kids, Justine, 7, and Ryan, 5, says he's on the road 230 days a year watching
games and cultivating sources. His energy--to see McGuire on one of his
pounding, hourlong treadmill runs is to pity the machine--is why he ranks among
the league leaders in scoops. During the 2004-05 lockout he was the first to
declare that the players would agree to a salary cap. "I love everything
about hockey," he says. "The game, but also the people, the
culture." That passion will, as always, bring light, and warmth, to the