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Guerin confident Wild will bounce back after taking job as GM

Says Minnesota, which missed playoffs last season, has 'ton of potential'

by Jessi Pierce / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Bill Guerin said he firmly believes the Minnesota Wild have what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. 

Guerin was introduced as the fourth general manager in Minnesota history on Thursday. He replaces Paul Fenton, who was fired July 30 after he was GM for 14 months. Guerin spent the past eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, including the past five as assistant GM, winning the Stanley Cup twice as a member of their front office (2016, 2017) and once as a player (2009). He also won the Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 1995.

 

[RELATED: Guerin named Wild general manager | Minnesota Wild season preview]

 

"We have a lot of work to do, but there's a ton of potential and I'm extremely excited to get to work," Guerin said. "There's everything here to win. Everything. I've seen it as a player, I've seen it in management as far as what it takes to build a winner. Everything is here. Everything is in place. 

"We have a good team. This is a good team. My job is to make it better, and we are going to build."

Selected by New Jersey with the No. 5 pick in the 1989 NHL Draft, Guerin had 856 points (429 goals, 427 assists) in 1,263 regular-season games with the Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, New York Islanders and Penguins. He had 74 points (39 goals, 35 assists) in 140 Stanley Cup Playoff games. 

The 48-year-old joins Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake as the only NHL general managers who retired as players within the past 10 years; 2009-10 was the final season for each.

It is Guerin's relatively recent history as a player that has the Wild gleaming. 

"I was very excited," Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Knowing him as a player, knowing that he's won four Cups, knowing that he's not overly far removed from being a player, that was important too. You know what the players feel like. 

"He's also worked with one of the best GMs in history in Jim Rutherford (in Pittsburgh), who I know personally, and he wouldn't hire people that A) aren't qualified and B) aren't great people. That's the initial thing that I thought of and after meeting him personally, I could see that that's true." 

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

Those sentiments were echoed by Wild goalies Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock, forwards Mikko Koivu, Luke Kunin and Eric Staal, and defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who attended the press conference to show their support and meet their new GM. 

"He played in Edmonton, so when I was a kid, I watched him play a lot of hockey games and always admired the way he played," Spurgeon said. "Now to be able to meet him and have him as a leader of this group, I'm very excited.

"He's won on both sides of being a player, and the off-ice side of it. He knows what it takes to win and that's going to be big for us. As much as we think we know what it takes to win, we haven't done it yet."

Spurgeon, who led Minnesota defensemen with 14 goals last season, is entering the final season of a four-year, $20.75 million contract he signed on Dec. 21, 2015, but said his focus is on the upcoming season while his agent handles contract talks with Guerin.

"When he's ready to have that conversation with my agent, we'll be ready," Spurgeon said.   

During the press conference, Wild owner Craig Leipold said during Fenton's tenure things "felt off," and Koivu said he could already feel an energy shift with Guerin.

"I think that's just personality, the way he leads and his energy, but also his presence when he gets to the room," the Wild captain said. "I think just with that, you know his work ethic as a player and as a manager, and what he's been through and the success he's had, I think all of that makes it very exciting. I'm excited as a player and I think you can feel that excitement all around." 

Guerin also is excited for the future in Minnesota.  

"I think if you looked at the past 10 years of what's gone on in Minnesota, they're consistently a playoff team," he said. "We missed last year, but that happens to the best of teams. I think what's most important is how we're going to move forward from that. But there are a lot of really good players up on that board. We've got a coach that's won a ton of games. We've got Stanley Cup winners. We've got guys who have won in this league for a long time, and I'm confident this group is going to bounce back."

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