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Guerin has 'full confidence' in Boudreau as Wild coach

GM also discusses new job, raising expectations, career influences with NHL.com

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Following a whirlwind past week when he was offered the Minnesota Wild's general manager position Tuesday and was introduced at a news conference at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, Bill Guerin is busy settling into his new job and everything that goes with it.

He'll somehow have to fit in time to find a place to live in between meeting with players, coaches and the hockey operations staff while getting ready for the start of training camp Sept. 12.

After 18 seasons with eight teams as an NHL player followed by three seasons in player development and five seasons as assistant GM with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Guerin believes he is ready for this opportunity and doesn't view getting the job so late in the offseason -- he replaced Paul Fenton, who was fired July 30 after 14 months on the job -- as a significant obstacle.

"I'm really comfortable with the way things are right now," said Guerin, who won the Stanley Cup twice as a player (New Jersey Devils, 1995; Penguins, 2009) and twice as a member of Pittsburgh's front office (2016, 2017). "I've had a couple discussions with (assistant GM) Tom Kurvers and (director of hockey operations) Chris O'Hearn and seeing how things have been put together here, they've had a ton of information for me. So I don't feel the need to rush to change anything this late in the summer.

"I talked to (coach) Bruce (Boudreau) for a while (Thursday) morning, and he's got training camp under control, so next week we're just going to dive in and just go over and see what everybody's got."

Video: Bill Guerin joins the show to discuss his new role

With the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, beginning Sept. 6, the 48-year-old will have an immediate opportunity to evaluate Minnesota's prospects and spend some time with its scouting and development staffs.

"I'm really excited for Traverse City, and it's always a good time to get the entire staff together," Guerin said. "It will be a good time for me to get to know everybody and kind of just give everybody an idea of what I'm thinking. It's perfect timing."

In a wide-ranging interview with NHL.com, Guerin discussed his plans as a first-time GM, the influences on his career, his confidence in Boudreau and more.

 

Why did this job appeal to you?

"That was the last question [Wild owner Craig Leipold] asked me: 'Why do you want this job?' And there's everything here to build a winner. You have great support from ownership. You have a good team. You have top-notch facilities. You have one of the best hockey markets in the world. Everything's here."

 

You interviewed for other GM jobs in past. Do you think those experiences helped you with this opportunity?

"They absolutely did. It's just like anything else: The more you do, the better you get. I interviewed here last year, so I had a comfort level with these guys and they're good people. They're very personable. They made it easy to just sit down and have good, honest conversations."

 

In those conversations, what did you find out that was different from last offseason?

"A lot of things can change in a year, and we were talking about entirely different issues or an entirely different direction that they felt they needed to go this year."

Video: Bill Guerin named Wild general manager

 

What do you think that direction needs to be?

"I think it's really the expectation level. Not that it hasn't always been high here, but I'm going to try to raise it and I'm going to give everybody clear guidelines on how we're going to get there."

 

Anything you have to address with the players about whatever went wrong last season that eventually led to the GM change?

"I'll be talking to a lot of players, I'll be talking to the coaching staff, the hockey ops staff, and get some information and listen. When I do, what I'm going to make clear is that last year was last year and we have to move forward."

 

Is there a characteristic you want a Bill Guerin team to have?

"Yeah, highly competitive. I want my guys, our team, showing up every night to compete as hard as we can. Every player brings a different skill set. There are skilled players. There are powerful players. Not everybody's going to have 10 hits at the end of the game. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about if you're a skilled guy, I want you to compete on the puck, things like that, not just running around. It's play hard with what type of player you are."

 

You met with Boudreau on Thursday. You're his third GM in about 15 months. Did you have to talk to him about his job security?

"Yeah, Bruce and I had a great conversation. I assured him that I'm behind him 100 percent. He's a good coach that's been around this game a long time, he's won a ton of games, and I've got full confidence in him."

 

Captain Mikko Koivu said he's feeling good in his recovery from a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee and should be ready for the start of the season, but do you need to be cautious with him in training camp?

"I haven't had a chance to sit with the medical staff and go over what's going on with him and where he is. I know he's close. I know he wants to make sure he does the right things, but we've got to do what's right for him and make sure that he's ready to go for the long haul."

 

At what point in your playing career did you start thinking about getting into management?

"When I really got involved in the NHL Players' Association, it really fascinated me. Then, when we went into the 2004-05 lockout, that was Hockey Business 101 and I just thought it was fascinating how everything's put together. It really caught my attention, so I started thinking about it."

 

You've mentioned former Penguins/current Devils GM Ray Shero, former Penguins assistant GM/current Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford as influences. What would you like to take from your experiences with them?

"They all have different styles, but the common theme was that they all put great people around them, they all have great staffs, and that's the main thing. I feel like I'm extremely lucky because of where I am. I've done my homework on this staff and in talking to Tom Kurvers the past couple days, they're good people here."

 

Do you feel a need to bring in any of your own people?

"I'm going to take it slow right now. It's late. Eventually, there could be some shuffling, but I'm not going to just do something to do it. I'm going to do something if it can help us on the ice or in our scouting or something like that."

 

You speak highly of beginning your NHL playing career with the Devils and winning the Stanley Cup with them in 1995. What from that experience helped you?

"I thought it was so impactful on my career and on my life to be around an older, established group of guys and to be around somebody like (GM) Lou Lamoriello and (coach) Jacques Lemaire. There was a clear direction. There was a team-first environment, and that was the bottom line. Everything is about winning, everything is about the team, and I really believe in that. I believe that thinking of the team first and sacrificing for the team is the only way."

 

The late Herb Brooks is an icon in Minnesota. There's a statue of him near Xcel Energy Center. He coached you in Utica (American Hockey League) in 1992 and with the United States at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. What did you learn from him?

"I learned that Herb was way ahead of his time. He was a brilliant guy. Everyone thought he thought out of the box, and maybe for that time he did, but everything that he talked about, we're doing now, like for training and that stuff. Herb was a special guy. I feel really fortunate that I had the opportunity to play for him."

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