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The real story behind the Pierre McGuire firing!

May 18, 2022, 4:13 PM ET [156 Comments]
Kevin Francis
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Over the past two weeks, I have been in contact with several sources regarding the firing of Pierre McGuire. These sources are both league-wide and within the organization on numerous levels. As many of you know, I don't post anything of substance regarding the Ottawa Senators unless I have it verified by at least two sources. Naturally, if I can get more than two sources to confirm what I'm being told it adds more credibility to my story which is what I was able to do regarding this piece.

If we go back to when McGuire was hired on July 12, 2021, information started to come out about how the hiring took place. Many media in this town speculated that it was a league decision to have McGuire hired but that wasn't the case at all. McGuire stated how he was talking to Mr. Melnyk for a week before Sens GM Pierre Dorion was even made aware of the talks. He stated at the time that when Dorion was told that he was going to be hired, only McGuire and Mr. Melnyk knew inside the organization that this hiring was taking place, not even Dorion was aware of this. Then when Dorion was told, he secretly made his way up to McGuire's home in Mont Tremblant to meet with him for a few hours.

What many people don't know is that when McGuire was still at NBC Sports as an analyst, he knew with the announcement of ESPN and TNT taking over the TV rights in the United States starting in the 2021-22 season, that he wasn't going to make the move over to either network. While the Eastern Conference Final was taking place, McGuire reached out to Dorion to see if there was a position for him within the Sens management team knowing how thin Ottawa was in that area. It's no secret in NHL circles that the Sens are extremely thin on the hockey ops side and that Dorion is overextended with his duties far too often. Much to McGuire's surprise, Dorion blew him off in a matter of minutes. Dorion wanted no part in bringing him on to the staff in any capacity even though the team was severely short in all areas with their pro and amateur scouting.

This is where things took a weird turn as McGuire reached out to a few close hockey confidants to get into direct contact with Mr. Melnyk. He was successful in doing so and I was told Mr. Melnyk wasn't happy at all with Dorion's actions by blowing off McGuire the way he did, as he had questioned player development with some prospects on how they were being handled over the years along with horrible decision making with numerous trades and free-agent signings. That's when the plan of action started with the potential hiring of McGuire but he was told not a single person could be told they were speaking, not even McGuire's wife! These talks were going to be air tight shut so Mr. Melnyk could speak with McGuire in detail about both the direction and approach of the team as he was tired of the DJ Smith and Dorion show with how neither was held accountable to his standards. Melnyk had long questioned how Dorion listened to his head coach far too much on personnel moves that continuously didn't work out. Keep in mind, that it was Melnyk that forced Dorion to hire Jack Capuano as an assistant coach as he felt DJ was far too inexperienced when he was hired as head coach and it didn't sit well with Melnyk.

During a week of conversations between McGuire and Melnyk, it became clear that hiring McGuire was exactly what the doctor ordered. McGuire told Melnyk he would be the "unbiased eye" for the organization and that his NHL network of contacts was far greater than that of Dorion. Once Dorion was told by Melnyk that McGuire was being hired and that the announcement would come after the weekend, is when Dorion agreed to go up to meet with him at his home in Tremblant. Dorion was absolutely livid due to McGuire going behind his back to get back into NHL management which is where he wanted to be after his broadcasting days were done with NBC Sports losing the NHL television rights in the United States.

Both Pierre's knew they had to make this relationship work and both said all the right things upon McGuire's hiring. When he was announced as senior vice president of player development, it was stated he would help scout the pro and amateur ranks but that he would also be out front in selling the message to the fans of Ottawa.

“There’s no question, it is part of the role, and it’s something Mr. Melnyk talked about when we met, maybe the first two or three times in phone conversations,” McGuire said during his Zoom availability back on July 12, 2021. “Yes, it’s definitely part of it and I appreciate that and it’s something that I am comfortable with. I’ve made my living doing that for the last 20 years.”

In the two months leading up to training camp, Melnyk listened to McGuire far more than Dorion. For years, it was widely known how Dorion was threatened by anyone that had more hockey knowledge than he had, something which McGuire brought to the table and he was a strong personality something that Dorion has never handled well in his years with the organization, more recently the issues he had with Guy Boucher. I was also told that was the reason why Dorion hired Peter MacTavish as assistant GM, when there were far better candidates, that Dorion always felt threatened which is why he liked the hockey ops department thin because then he didn't have to deal with real hockey knowledge on the management side of things.

In fact, the animosity that Dorion had for McGuire was visible from day one I was told. Sources told me that Dorion acted very juvenile at times and made jealous remarks of McGuire about even the most minor things. Dorion didn't like how McGuire had everyone over to his house for a BBQ not long after being hired to get to know the coaching staff and upper management team.

Dorion knew he had to silence McGuire after numerous media members were on a more personal level with him than the Sens GM, something that burned him so much that he eventually went to Melnyk at the end of August 2021 and told him that if he didn't get a contract extension, he would make things difficult for all those involved as he was in the final year of his current contract. There are a few other aspects that occurred leading up to this situation that I still haven't been given a green light to write about but once I do in the coming weeks/months, I will be sure to write another piece about this situation that took place.

What many fans wondered was why McGuire was so silent after everyone was told he would be selling the message to the fans, well now you why. The sad part is McGuire was also brought in because DJ and Dorion were too comfortable in Melnyk's eyes and the same status quo had to be changed. The problem is Dorion was determined all season to have the final word on McGuire, to show him that he had more power, which he was successful in doing after the passing of Melnyk. Many NHL personnel said to me after the firing was, couldn't Dorion have waited until after the NHL entry draft to use McGuire's expertise from scouting all year, rather than paying him to go away and not help the organization?

But unfortunately, this is what Sens fans have to deal with, a GM that is in over his head with really nobody to answer to now, plus a head coach that has no business overseeing this team next season. As the saying goes, if there are better candidates for your coaching staff, upper management, or players on the ice, if you aren't constantly trying to upgrade at every level, then you aren't doing your best to win and put the best product on the ice. Dorion should be talking to the numerous head coaches that are out there looking for work that could take this team to the next level instead of waiting for the same results next season.

Looking back at what happened after McGuire was hired, the entire season was a power struggle between the two Pierre's, Dorion tried to pin the blame on McGuire for the Michael Del Zotto signing along with pushing for the trade of Dylan Gambrell and the waiver claim of Adam Gaudette. Yet Dorion never gave McGuire his proper due when Brady Tkachuk was signed to a contract extension. It was McGuire that initiated the meeting in Belleville back in early October to get things done as he knew the pettiness of Dorion with Tkachuk's agent had to stop, plus McGuire had a better working relationship with Brady's agent. It was all McGuire in getting the Brady contract signed. The made for TV fist bump between the two Pierre's after the Brady signing was as phony as Dorion is when he holds his pressers with the Ottawa media.

The organization allowed Dorion to pay McGuire to go away for his own benefit. I was told he was making somewhere in the 500k range per year. Now instead of putting that money into hiring other scouts or increasing their analytics department, they are now paying a million over the next two years for nothing! It's clear Dorion isn't sincere in making this team better or he would never have put his own ego ahead of the organization by paying McGuire to go away. It would've been better served to fire DJ Smith and his 775k salary for another two years to improve a coaching staff that has failed this team for a few years now. The wrong employee was fired and until this team gets a new owner, Sens fans will be subject to the same results.

Sens players are even asking for change by Dorion because they are tired of horrible signings, trades and waiver claims that haven't given this team a serious shot in the arm to make them contend for a playoff spot. Don't fool yourself Sens fans, these talks of Tkachuk and Chabot approaching Dorion aren't nice chats, in fact, Chabot's frustration level is at the highest it has ever been. Wouldn't you be frustrated by a coaching staff that refuses to play Artem Zub with you full-time or to find an adequate partner that isn't meant to play in the bottom pairing on the blueline?

Finally, to show this fanbase how petty Dorion is, I encourage all of you to listen to the last Wally and Methot podcast, it's called their season ending edition. Some Sens fans will say I'm being negative about the GM and head coach, both of these men bring it on themselves. I would love nothing more than to be able to talk about a team that is being properly coached and managed but alas that isn't the case in Ottawa. So when you listen to the first 20 minutes of the podcast, you will hear how Dorion texted the three TSN insiders of Lebrun, Dreger, and McKenzie a few years ago, saying how he didn't like Brent Wallace asking him questions about Erik Karlsson. This coming from a GM that talks about his girlfriend at his pressers, really?! What GM in any professional sport would be sure to include a conversation about his girlfriend with his nervous voice? Has Dorion ever looked comfortable at a presser? There are other instances that are shared on the podcast in relation to how Dorion acts and again, no team in pro sports would allow him to operate the way he does, except here in Ottawa.

Comments, thoughts?
Thanks for reading.
Kevin
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