Bill Guerin thought it was only appropriate that the New Jersey Devils were in town for his farewell at the CONSOL Energy Center on Monday night.
Guerin, who announced his retirement on Monday, was New Jersey's first-round draft pick (No. 5) in 1989 and played for the Devils from 1992-98.
"That's why I chose this date -- because they were here," Guerin admitted during the first intermission of Pittsburgh's showdown against New Jersey in the Steel City. "I talked to (Devils GM) Lou (Lamoriello) earlier this week and thanked him for having faith in a crazy, 18-year-old kid. I hope I made him proud. He gave me my start in the NHL. I'm eternally grateful for that."
Lamoriello was surely grateful to have Guerin in 1995, when he helped the franchise capture its first Stanley Cup championship in 1995. New Jersey won the trophy by sweeping the Detroit Red Wings in four straight games. Guerin, who was 25 at the time, had 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in 20 postseason contests that year.
"Nobody thought we were going to win going into the (Stanley Cup) Finals," Guerin, now 40, recalled. "Everybody was picking Detroit. We just went in there and kind of put our stamp on things with the sweep. We turned some heads. It was fun and it was all about the team."
"He was a great player," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said of Guerin. "He knew how to score goals. He had such a great shot and he was a gritty player. He was such a power forward. He had a great career. It's a big day for him."
Guerin put on his No. 13 Penguins sweater during Monday's pre-game ceremony and high-fived each of the Pens before heading off the ice for the last time. In 1,263 NHL games, Guerin had 429 goals and 427 assists. He also had 15 points in 24 playoff games in 2009 and helped Pittsburgh beat Detroit to win the Stanley Cup.
"It's definitely an emotional time right now," Guerin said. "All day has been crazy, running around. I'm just glad I finally made the decision."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Material from broadcast media was used in this report.