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Guerin delivered leadership, humor and Cups during Pens' tenure

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

Bill Guerin has had a storied career in the National Hockey League. But his best days occurred in Pittsburgh.

That's where Guerin, 48, won three of his four Stanley Cups (two as a player, two as an executive). Guerin played a crucial role in helping the Pens rebound in the 2008-09 season to capture the franchise's third Stanley Cup (and second for Guerin). Acquired at the NHL trade deadline, Guerin's veteran leadership, vibrant personality and clutch on-ice play made him an instant favorite amongst teammates and fans.

Guerin retired in 2010 as a Penguin and made the transition to the team's front office. He served as player development coach before working his way up to assistant general manager. It was in that role that he helped oversee the Penguins capturing two more Cup titles in back-to-back fashion in 2016-17.

On Wednesday, Guerin took the next step in his storied hockey life, as he was named general manager of the Minnesota Wild.

"We thank Billy for his contributions to the Penguins organization," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. "He's helped us greatly in the development of our players. His leadership both as a player and in the front office were integral to the team winning three Stanley Cups during his time in Pittsburgh."

Guerin's on-ice heroics were clutch during the '09 playoff run, from scoring an overtime goal against Philadelphia to scoring the series-winner in a Game 7 upset of rival Washington to a five-point breakout against Carolina in the Eastern Conference Final.

But Guerin's off-ice antics were legendary. Whether it was throwing jokes at the expense of team captain Sidney Crosby upon their first meeting or making his teammates omelets in nothing but a jock strap, Guerin knew how to keep the team loose. He also knew when to rally their confidence, as he did following a devastating 5-0 loss in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Detroit. Led by Guerin's example, the Pens rebounded with wins in Games 6 and 7 (at Detroit) to become champions.

 

"I am happy for Billy, and going to miss having him around," Crosby said. "He's always been respected on and off the ice. He is a great leader and was always there for me since the day he came to Pittsburgh. I know he'll be a great general manager."

Pittsburgh made such an impact on Guerin that following his retirement, he did so as a Penguin and made his post-career home in the city.

"We were only here a short time, but my family and I developed such a deep connection to the city, the team and the fans," Guerin said at his retirement. "It was amazing. From ownership to the front office to the coaching staff to trainers, from my teammates to the arena workers to the people in the stands, they all treated us in such a first-class manner. We all agree that retiring as a Pittsburgh Penguin is the perfect thing to do."

A year later, the team hired him as a development coach and promoted him to general manager three years later.

In both roles with the team, Guerin was crucial in the maturation of the team's prospects. It was many of those prospects - such as Matt Murray, Brian Dumoulin, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl and Conor Sheary - that would help the club win back-to-back titles.

"Billy's insights and knowledge of the game were helpful to myself and the coaching staff," said head coach Mike Sullivan. "We're grateful for all he has done for us. I'm personally excited for his new endeavor and wish him much success."

Guerin played 18 NHL seasons and was a member of the 400-400 club with 429 goals and 427 assists for 856 points. He won two Stanley Cups (New Jersey, 1995; Pittsburgh, 2009). He played his final 95 games in the league as a Penguin.

In the 2009 Stanley Cup run, Guerin played wing with Crosby and notched seven goals and 15 points in 24 games. The Wilbraham, MA native is a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and participated in three Olympics (1998, '02, '06), earning a silver medal at the 2002 Games.

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