The Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers heated up a bit in Game 4 after Rangers pest (and saluting idiot) Mike Rupp messed with mummified Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.
This led to Rangers head coach John Tortorella and Devils counterpart Peter DeBoer screaming at each other between the benches. If they were within arm’s length of each other they probably would have dropped the proverbial gloves. You can find video of the incident below.
Coaches screaming at each other to that degree isn’t exactly common, but this is the second time this season that we’ve seen this sort of incident. The first time involved the Flyers’ own Peter Laviolette and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato (Disco Dan Bylsma didn’t want to mess up his suit, I guess). There is one other common thread in these situations: Pierre McGuire was right in the middle of the action. Pierre also muted his microphone in both situations.
Pierre did manage to contribute to the Laviolette incident, specifically by chatting it up with Scott Hartnell. As far as the actual coaches though, Pierre offered few specifics. He contributes to the Laviolette incident a bit, alerting the broadcasting crew to the fact that it is happening and that this is the angriest he’s ever seen Lavy.
When it came to the Tortorella-DeBoer incident, Pierre did even less. He doesn’t need to record the entire incident, but at least give us the highlights! This is a significant incident between the men running these two teams, and is something that needs to be reported on. Instead, McGuire simply offers vague cliches such as: “This is what you have when guys get together, at a little push of a button. Tortorella giving it to DeBoer and DeBoer giving it right back to him.”
What is the purpose of the “inside the glass” reporter if they aren’t informing the audience of significant incidents on the benches and ice? Pierre knows everything about the Central Hockey League history of these players, but he can relay that just as effectively from the broadcasting booth as he can from the area between the benches.
What about the pregame interviews he provides? Those are as generic as any other athlete interview, “We gotta give it our all and score.” Hooray!
There is a limit to what Pierre can and cannot report. The NHL is not quite his direct employer but, given the deal between NBC and the league, they might as well employ him. He most likely cannot directly record the screaming match or repeat it verbatim. It is not outrageous to expect a basic recap of what was said. Are coaches off-limits? They certainly are not when it comes to uncomfortable, forced interviews in the middle of the game.
Viewers genuinely want to know what’s going on and he is in the best seat in the house. Drawing in viewers should be the NHL’s primary concern. The NHL and NBC should be doing whatever they can to draw in a larger audience. Having that kind of access could be a fantastic resource in the right hands. If Pierre’s not providing that, then there is no reason that he needs to be between the benches.