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Mark Madden: Coyne Schofield-McGuire exchange was awkward, nothing more |
Mark Madden, Columnist

Mark Madden: Coyne Schofield-McGuire exchange was awkward, nothing more

Mark Madden
| Friday, February 1, 2019 8:23 p.m
United States’ Kendall Coyne skates during the Skills Competition, part of the NHL All-Star weekend, in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Pierre McGuire broadcasts from between the benches during the third period of a game between the Bruins and the Capitals on April 8, 2017, in Boston. Women’s hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield said she doesn’t believe NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire questioned her knowledge of the sport during an awkward pregame interaction. McGuire was criticized on social media for telling Coyne Schofield which sides the Penguins and Lightning were on during their broadcast of the game on NBC Sports Network on Wednesday and for saying the network was paying her to be an analyst and not a fan.

The Kendall Coyne Schofield-Pierre McGuire fiasco on the NBC Sports Network on Wednesday night was much ado about nothing.

If you’re just now tuning in, U.S. women’s hockey player Coyne Schofield debuted as an analyst on NBCSN’s NHL coverage, specifically the game between Tampa Bay and the host Penguins. McGuire introduced Coyne Schofield in a fashion some called condescending but was mostly clumsy: “We’re paying you to be an analyst, not to be a fan tonight.”

Was it “mansplaining?” Or did McGuire’s attempt at humor fall flat?

I’d say the latter. McGuire’s a good guy. Even if he wasn’t, he’s not dumb enough to intentionally embarrass Coyne Schofield on her debut. That had no upside for McGuire.

Coyne Schofield seemed to bear McGuire no ill will when they were in the Penguins locker room together following the game.

Then, after the “woke” sector of the hockey media rose up as one against McGuire, both parties handled the situation with class and character.

Coyne Schofield said she “didn’t think twice” about the exchange when it happened, but acknowledged its awkward nature: “If I were watching it at home … I would have been offended.” But Coyne Schofield referred to McGuire as a friend.

McGuire issued a statement, saying, “My excitement got the better of me and I should have chosen my words better. I have the utmost respect for Kendall.”

That’s where it should end.

McGuire is a well-known and effective representative of hockey. Coyne Schofield’s first on-air appearance was predictably flawed — much credit to Eddie Olczyk for effectively shepherding her through a few rough spots — but showed promise. An Olympic gold medal gives her credibility. Her presence gives NBC Sports’ hockey coverage diversity.

Full disclosure: I initially rolled my eyes when NBC Sports hired Coyne Schofield after she participated in the fastest-skater competition at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Coyne Schofield finished seventh of eight participants, but her lap was undeniably electric.

Coyne Schofield graduated from Northeastern with a B.A. in communications. But that’s not why NBC Sports hired her.

NBC Sports hired Coyne Schofield because she skated around a rink at eye-catching speed on their network, and that generated a groundswell.

That’s an odd and rather immediate path to becoming an analyst on national television. Before the Skills Competition, being a fan was Coyne Schofield’s lone connection to the NHL. That part of what McGuire said rang true.

But it’s no different than how a male ex-jock gets the same job.

Tony Romo didn’t pay his dues working small-market TV before becoming a network football analyst. He played quarterback for Dallas, then immediately joined CBS upon retiring. The only controversy was that he became CBS’ No. 1 analyst right away.

Coyne Schofield isn’t Robin Roberts. Romo isn’t Heywood Hale Broun. Neither was hired for broadcasting expertise, but rather for their name and fame. It’s all about getting viewers to turn on their TVs and feel engaged with the broadcast.

Romo does that. Coyne Schofield has a chance to follow suit.

McGuire’s unseemly soliloquy unwittingly did Coyne Schofield a favor: It got her in the public eye, and in a sympathetic light, on the first night of her broadcasting career.

The hockey community was mostly quick to let the incident go after McGuire and Coyne Schofield so properly managed its aftermath. Other big-time sports don’t do that. They carry unpleasantness around like a disease. Hockey moved on. Nobody got offended with Coyne Schofield when she wasn’t offended.

McGuire and Coyne Schofield are valuable assets to hockey. I’m not “mansplaining,” but you’d be a fool to not see that.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM 105.9.

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