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Pierre McGuire Knows A Thing Or Two About Coach Killers

We were not surprised to hear TSN colleagues Pierre McGuire and Marc Crawford light into newly-minted free agent Alexander Semin during the Canadian sports network's special NHL free agency show Sunday. Katie Carrera of the Post has a full rundown of the quotes, which include the words "complete loser" and "no character" from Crawford and the dreaded "coach killer" from McGuire.

It's tempting to dismiss McGuire's remarks as the product of some bizarre anti-Russian bias, but just remember, the man knows a coach killer when he sees one. After all, what was his term as boss of the Hartford Whalers if not some kind of career suicide?

Ah, yes. Some may not remember this, but McGuire spent 67 games behind the bench for the Whale during Hartford's ill-fated 1993-94 season. After posting a record of 23-37-7, he was fired by then-GM Paul Holmgren (now with the Philadelphia Flyers). That firing produced one of the most vicious, deliciously memorable post-mortems we've ever read from the Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs.

With one brush of his newly recovered powers Thursday, general manager Paul Holmgren did more to unify the Whalers than anybody in recent team history.

Holmgren fired coach Pierre McGuire after six months.

It was more than a great idea.

It was justice.

And there's more where that came from.

In 15 years of covering the NHL, we had never seen a coach so universally disrespected and disliked within his own organization.

McGuire fancied himself two parts Scotty Bowman and one part Bob Johnson. It turned out to be a superhuman leap of faith on his part.

At 32, McGuire was the youngest head coach in the NHL. He never had been a head coach at any level. And it showed. He is book smart and X's and O's smart, but often not people smart.

And more.

When the hallway curtain opened after a loss in Boston, McGuire was found by the media wildly smashing sticks against the wall. When the door opened after a loss in Pittsburgh, McGuire was seen knocking furniture around the coach's room.


On the bench, players said McGuire would taunt the other team, saying he couldn't believe the opposing coach was allowing him certain line matchups. This braggadocio led Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr to mock McGuire in December. McGuire got Jagr for an illegal stick, and after Jagr jumped out of the penalty box, he scored on a breakaway. Although he had scored big goals in two Stanley Cup championships, Jagr called this overtime goal the biggest of his life because he humbled "that know-it-all.''

So, no, it's not surprising that Pierre McGuire called Alexander Semin a "coach killer." But if his career as a head coach is any guide, McGuire wouldn't have been able to work with the Russian anyway.