The NHL lost a good one today. Former Senators’ assistant coach EJ McGuire has died of cancer at age 58. Most people didn’t even know he was sick, his diagnosis coming just 4 months ago. McGuire - the head of NHL Central Scouting - had something called Leiomyoscarcoma, an incurable, rare form of cancer that aggressively attacks the cells that make up the involuntary muscles within the body.
McGuire was one of those guys everyone liked instantly - always happy and friendly. His hard work and love of hockey were equally consistent traits.
Last Saturday, it was clear McGuire’s fight was starting to run out of steam as he missed Central Scouting's Final Rankings Meeting. He hadn’t missed one in nine years but still called in to make sure everything was fine and to provide his friends and colleagues with an update on his condition.
Here is the account of that call from nhl.com and Mike Morreale.
At the conclusion of his call, he'd even open it up to a question-and-answer segment with the scouts. But, there were no questions.
As usual, McGuire spoke honestly and truthfully, leaving no stone unturned, and that's just how he wanted it.
"This is a (very rare) disease, so they don't know a lot about it and they don't put a lot of research money into it for that very same reason," McGuire said.
McGuire would also do what he does best by providing his "boys" with the usual motivational mantra that sets the tone for what has become an art form at Central Scouting -- due in large part to McGuire.
McGuire was diagnosed with one of the rarest forms of cancer in December -- leiomyoscarcoma. It's a disease that aggressively attacks the cells that make up the involuntary muscles within the body.
He received radiation treatment on his right leg -- where the disease was initially diagnosed -- in January. He put up a valiant fight, but lost his battle on Thursday.
"I know it's non-curable and as you could probably tell from the way I need a little oxygen break every so often, that the disease is winning ... and it's going to win," McGuire said. "I'm not being defeated, but it's going to win."
He apologized, paused and took a few deep breaths before carrying on. McGuire always had his priorities in order; determined to get the job done and done right.
"I want you to do the job you were paid to do," he said.
In 92-93, McGuire was a member of the Sens expansion coaching staff. Rick Bowness was Sens’ head coach and Alain Vigneault his assistant, roles that have now been reversed in Vancouver. McGuire was the good cop when Bowness needed to be bad cop. McGuire was always the good cop - with everyone. That made him a favourite for those of us who covered the team that year - the Sens’ room was almost always full of losers and bad moods in those days.
Tonight the Sens will remember him with a moment of silence before their final home game of the season.
McGuire is survived by his wife, Terry, and their daughters, Jacqueline and Erin.