DENVER — NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire, who called Wednesday night's Lightning-Avalanche game on NBCSN, couldn't wait to brag about one of his favorite Tampa Bay athletes Wednesday morning. And it just so happens it was not a Lightning player.
"How about my guy Ali Marpet?'' McGuire said.
So how is it that McGuire is a fan of the Bucs offensive lineman?
Both played football at Division III Hobart College, though not at the same time, of course. McGuire, 57, not only played defense on the hockey team from 1979-82, he played quarterback on the football team and was a pitcher on the baseball team. He was Hobart's last three-sport athlete.
Marpet was drafted by the Bucs in the second round (61st overall) in the 2015 draft, making him the highest draft choice ever from a Division III school. McGuire said he hasn't met Marpet but the two know "of'' each other.
McGuire had heard of Marpet while Marpet was at Hobart. Jack Daniels, who was McGuire's football coach at Hobart, told McGuire that Marpet was going to be an NFL star.
"There's a GM in the NFL who is a really good friend of mine,'' McGuire said. "I don't want to say who, but he's a Super Bowl winner. And he said, 'I don't think we're going to be able to get this guy, but whoever gets this guy is getting a winner.' ''
Stanley Cup preview?
Speaking of winners and McGuire, the broadcaster was excited for the Lightning-Avs matchup.
"This could be — I'm not saying it is — it COULD be a Stanley Cup final matchup,'' McGuire said. "Both teams are that good.''
McGuire remains very high on the Lightning.
"They're knocking on the door,'' McGuire said. "And now, the way Yanni Gourde is playing and I give (coach Jon) Cooper a lot of credit for switching the lines up. He's getting the most out of this team. They're right there.''
D Slater Koekkoek, the Lightning's 2012 first-round pick, has yet to get into a game this season. He was scratched for the seventh consecutive time.
Though he can't crack the top six defensemen, coach Jon Cooper does want to get Koekkoek into a game soon, maybe Friday at Vegas or Saturday in Arizona.
"We've got to get everybody in,'' Cooper said. "With three games in four nights, hopefully, we can make that happen.''