Wednesday, 4 September 2019

A Reduced Role

After Sportsnet's latest round of cuts to try and make their networking side of hockey broadcasts somewhat profitable, it was expected that the cuts were done from major hockey broadcasters. Apparently, that was not the case as NBC decided to get in on the act today with their announcement that long-time - and oft-criticized - analyst Pierre McGuire would be handed a reduced role this season, moving him off the A-broadcast team with Mike "Doc" Emrick and Eddie Olczyk. While there is a striking resemblance between Pierre and The Simpsons' character Kirk Van Houten, I'm not sure the reaction Kirk had when he was fired from the cracker factory would have been different from the one Pierre had when he found out about his change in roles.

According to The Athletic's Rick Carpiniello, NBC is replacing McGuire with former NHL netminder Brian Boucher on the A-broadcast team while Pierre will be moved to a secondary team for at least the first night of NBC coverage. Whether or not this is a permanent move will be determined, but I suspect that NBC might be shuffling the deck a little after some of the issues he caused with his poor choice of words over the years. If this is a subtle way of having him off the national early broadcast that is consumed by millions more in the eastern portion of North America in favour of a less controversial analyst such as Boucher without firing McGuire while still paying him his contractual salary, NBC might be doing the network TV version of "burying him on the farm" if I can borrow a sports cliché.

While some have hoped that this would be a permanent move, it seems that NBC is following the formula they used during last season's opening night broadcast.
McGuire has been a fixture on NBC hockey broadcasts since 2006 when he was in a part-time role, splitting time with TSN, and was made a permanent NBC employee in 2011 when the network bought the broadcast rights in the US. Personally, I can't see NBC not using Pierre in a more prominent role than just for west coast games on double-header nights. I have a feeling we'll still see the man with all the obscure knowledge on players more often than we won't, but it might be less often with Doc and Eddie than we previously saw.

In any case, the NHL's version of Kirk Van Houten hasn't been fired like the cartoon version was, but it seems NBC is reducing his impact on viewership by reducing his visible hours on TV. I'm never going to celebrate anyone being fired or pushed closer to unemployment, but clearly NBC recognized that a change was needed. We'll see how Pierre McGuire handles his new role this season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: