Bill Guerin announced his retirement from the NHL after 18 seasons on Monday afternoon. The veteran of over 1,400 contests (regular season and playoffs) has been around a lot of the NHL's greatest talents since entering the league in 1992.
Guerin has played with or against the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier and Steve Yzerman.
But according to Guerin, his former teammate Sidney Crosby
stands out amongst them all.
“I was lucky enough to play against Gretzky, play against Mario, Jagr, all those guys,” Guerin said. “I think he’s just driven like a player that I’ve never seen before.”
Crosby isn’t leaving much room to doubt that claim with his current offensive explosion. He is riding a 15-game scoring streak in which he’s totaled 31 points (17G-14A) and leads the NHL in points (46) and goals (23). He’s also scored eight goals in his last four games, with multi-point games in 11 of his last 17 games.
And Crosby’s one-time linemate, Guerin, has noticed.
“What Sidney is doing right now is like an assault on the game,” he said. “For me to play with a guy like that later in my career was really special. It was really awesome.”
Guerin had many close relationships with his Penguins teammates during his year-and-a-half stay in Pittsburgh. But none was more special than the one he shared with linemate and team captain Sidney Crosby
“He was great,” Crosby said. “An older guy coming in with me being a young captain, he was there to support. That was important for me. But I think if anything, he treated everybody the same. Probably me a little more harsh, but in a good way.
“It was good, he kept things fun, and we had a good time playing together. I’m really happy he’s able to come here tonight and do this here. It’s really special.”
Guerin, who was acquired by Pittsburgh at the 2009 trade deadline, and Crosby bonded right away. When the two met for the first time, the NHL veteran hit the young superstar with a playful joke that has become infamous – partially because the joke has remained private.
“The first time I met him, within ten seconds,” Crosby said of the rip. “It was good for both of us, I was able to learn a lot as far as keeping things loose, and I think that’s a big part of what he brought.”
Guerin recorded seven goals and 15 points in 24 games in the postseason to win his second NHL championship and the Penguins’ third Stanley Cup title.
And after Crosby hoisted the Cup as captain, he made an unbelievable gesture in tribute to Guerin. Instead of handing the trophy to an alternate captain, as is customary, Crosby sought out Guerin and made sure he was the second person to raise the coveted trophy.
“That was a complete shock to me,” Guerin said of the moment. “Some of the guys were pushing me to the front, but I didn’t want to overstep my boundaries being one of the new guys. Sid searched me out and found me. That’s something I’ll never forget.
“It’s a huge honor. I think it shows the type of kid that Sid is. He’s extremely thoughtful even in the craziest of times. The gesture was amazing.”