Olympic hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield was excited to make her broadcasting debut on Wednesday ― but the moment wouldn’t have been complete without a cringeworthy conversation with the notoriously awkward Pierre McGuire.
She was working as an NBC guest analyst for Wednesday’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins. She is a five-time International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship gold medalist and helped the United States snag gold at last year’s Winter Olympics. For a professional athlete like her, an understanding of hockey’s high-action stoppages and long intermissions are second nature.
But that didn’t stop McGuire, a reporter for “Inside the Glass,” from trying to explain the basics to the hockey pro.
“Tampa’s going to be on your left, Pittsburgh’s going to be on your right,” he told her on air. “What are you expecting out of this game? We’re paying you to be an analyst, not a fan tonight.”
Coyne Schofield made history last weekend as the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. But that event also wasn’t without an awkward, boundary-crossing interaction, with McGuire touching her on the back and hip.
McGuire is known in the hockey community for being consistently awkward on camera ― including recent rinkside interactions with Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Penguins star Phil Kessel.
Coyne Schofield released a statement Thursday after footage of the exchange made the rounds on social media.
“I know [McGuire] respects me as a hockey player, a woman, and a friend and that is why I didn’t think twice about our on-air exchange when it happened,” she wrote. “I understand why people would think it was inappropriate; if I were watching it at home and saw a man say this to a woman athlete, I would have been offended.”
She added that while she wished the interaction had gone differently, “what IS important is for every young girl reading this to know it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of my hockey knowledge - because I do not doubt my hockey knowledge. ... I would never let someone else undo all of that work on the ice - and especially off.”
McGuire also released a statement Thursday about the exchange, saying he has known Coyne Schofield for years and has covered her career.
“We were all thrilled to have her join our coverage last night, but at times my excitement got the better of me and I should have chosen my words better,” he wrote. “I have the utmost respect for Kendall as a world-class player, analyst of the game, and role model.”
As for Coyne Schofield’s Wednesday broadcast, her analysis was accurate and detailed, as one would expect from an Olympic gold medalist.