TWO MINUTES with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1Classy move by the NHL at the start of the fitness testing portion of its scouting combine Friday with a tribute to former Central Scouting Service E.J. McGuire, the first coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack.

McGuire died in April from a rare form of cancer. Jim Gregory, a former general manager and senior NHL hockey operations member, opened with moving remarks about his close friend. Gregory’s comments were followed by a video homage to McGuire and his work in the hockey community.

McGuire was a longtime assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks (under coach Mike Keenan) and also coached the Wolf Pack and Maine Mariners in the AHL and the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm.

As Mariners coach in the 1991-92 season, McGuire oversaw Bruins players and prospects, including current broadcasters and analysts Andy Brickley, Bob Beers and Barry Pederson. He coached the Wolf Pack in 1997-98 and 1998-99 before John Paddock took over and led the team to its only Calder Cup title.

I didn’t cover the Wolf Pack while E.J. was coach, but he was always quite personable and informative when we chatted when he returned to the then Hartford Civic Center. He was a terrific guy and is sorely missed.

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