Kendall Coyne Schofield responds to Pierre McGuire backlash

United States' Kendall Coyne skates during the Skills Competition, part of the NHL All-Star weekend, in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. | Ben Margot/Associated Press

Less than 24 hours after her broadcasting debut, Kendall Coyne Schofield came to the defense of broadcaster Pierre McGuire, who has been criticized for mansplaining hockey to the two-time Olympic medalist.

During pregame of NBC Sports Network’s “Wednesday Night Hockey” coverage of the Lightning-Penguins game, McGuire stirred up controversy when it seemed he was explaining to Coyne which team was which.

“Tampa’s gonna be on your left. Pittsburgh’s gonna be on your right,” McGuire told Coyne with gestures. “What are you expecting out of this game? We’re paying you to be an analyst, not to be a fan tonight.”

In the moment, Coyne, who smiled and nodded when McGuire was talking, wrote on Twitter that she didn’t think twice about what he was saying. But after receiving “countless messages” and rewatching the tape, Coyne said she understands why people interpreted McGuire’s comments as mansplaining.

“If I were watching it at home and saw a man say this to a woman athlete, I would have been offended,” wrote Coyne, who has known McGuire for years and said she knows he respects her. “But what I also know is how excited Pierre was for me and to be a part of this moment. While I wish it came out differently, I know Pierre doesn’t question my hockey knowledge. But, to be honest, that’s not what’s important.”

Coyne, a seven-time world champion who helped Team USA win Olympic gold over Canada in 2018, used this incident as a teaching less and encouraged young girls to have confidence in themselves.

“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,” she continued. “I didn’t need a gold medal to come to that conclusion. I needed belief in myself. That took time to build and I would never let someone else undo all that work on the ice — and especially off.”

McGuire also released a statement Thursday apologizing for his comments.

“We were all thrilled to have [Kendall] join our coverage last night, but at times my excitement got the better of me and I should have chosen my words better,” McGuire said. “I have utmost respect for Kendall as a world-class player, analyst of the game and role model.”

Before her broadcasting debut, Coyne made history last weekend as the first woman to compete in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. She participated in the All-Star speed skating competition and finished in seventh place.

Coyne hopes her actions inspire a new generation of female hockey players.

“To say it was one of the most incredible weeks of my life wouldn’t come close to doing it service. But what made this week even more meaningful is knowing that I was much bigger than me. People joke about my size but what I can tell you is I’ve learned these shoulders are strong enough to carry the weight and responsibility I feel, not just to myself, but to all of the young girls who have watched my week and now know what is possible for them.”

Read her full statement below:

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