NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire became the first candidate to talk publicly about the Penguins’ general manager vacancy — twice.
In a regular segment of a Toronto radio program Tuesday and then in an NBC Sports teleconference advancing the Stanley Cup final, McGuire acknowledged he has spoken with the Penguins but said he does not know if he is a finalist.
“I can’t speak to that,” McGuire said. “I have no concept of that, except to tell you this: There are a lot of people that would like that job.”
The Penguins fired Ray Shero May 16.
McGuire, 52, who was a scout and assistant coach for the Penguins in the early 1990s, called the Penguins “an amazing situation” and said it’s unfortunate that owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle and CEO David Morehouse got to a point where they sought a change.
“First of all, the general manager that got fired probably didn’t deserve to get fired, Ray Shero,” he said. “He’s done an amazing job with that group and put together a real strong team. Management, and ownership in particular, had higher expectations over the last five years for the team that hadn’t been realized. That’s when change happens, or when they decided to make the change.
“It’s been a pretty fluid process throughout the last 10 days to two weeks.”
McGuire considers himself part of a large pool of applicants.
“I’ve met with the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’ve talked with the Pittsburgh Penguins,” he said. “But so have a lot of other people. It’s a long list. It’s an attractive job. There are a lot of people in the hockey world that would like to have that position.”
Others with knowledge of the Penguins search also indicated that the team is still looking at a number of people, although there are indications that the vacancy could be filled later this week.
Other known candidates are Penguins interim general manager Jason Botterill, Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald, Tampa Bay assistant general manager Julien BriseBois and Nashville assistant general manager Paul Fenton.
Another possible candidate is Carolina’s Jim Rutherford, who stepped aside as Hurricanes general manager in April to become team president in an advisory role, with former Penguins Hall of Famer Ron Francis taking over as general manager.
Rutherford, 65, a former goaltender who spent two seasons with the Penguins in the early 1970s, was the general manager in Carolina for 20 years.
He noted to the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer that he is under contract with the Hurricanes — he has two years remaining — and declined further comment.
McGuire said whoever gets the job had better be ready to roll up his sleeves.
“You know that the expectation from ownership and your fan base is going to be extremely large,” he said. “The other thing you have to think about when you accept these kind of challenges is, how prepared are you to do it? How prepared are you to be a ‘doctor’ — you’re on call 24/7? Because that’s the way it’s got to be if you’re going to be successful. It’s not like rotisserie league hockey or baseball or football where you just put a fantasy team together.
“There are so many different ramifications now compared to when I first started in the league back in 1990 in terms of the salary cap, in terms of the Iron Curtain coming down, the explosion of players from non-traditional hockey markets.
“You look at the whole thing. It’s just become a very, very complex business. It’s very important that if you do accept one of those jobs, you understand that and you’re prepared to put the work in, because if you don’t have the energy and the passion, you’re not going to be successful at it.”
Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published June 3, 2014 8:44 AM