UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- With all the injuries the Penguins have sustained this season, head coach Dan Bylsma is looking around in search of people to fill those holes.
One person on the ice for Pittsburgh’s Friday practice has been lobbying Bylsma for a chance to suit up again and wear the Penguins crest on his chest: Bill Guerin. Bylsma, however, was less than lukewarm on the idea.
”He’s also one of the guys who’s put his name in the hat for spot duties,” Bylsma said with a smile. “I thought his practice was no better than a 3, so we’ll talk with the coaches.”
|Bill Guerin at Penguins practice |
Guerin, who originally joined the Penguins as a player at a 2009 trade deadline deal and helped them win the franchise’s third Stanley Cup a few months later, engaged in his usual hilarious behavior.
“It’s always nice to see some guys you’ve played with,” former linemate Chris Kunitz
said. “It’s good to have his input. We get to have some laughs and shoot the pucks around.”
“Whenever these guys are around or I’m around them, I love it,” Guerin said. “It’s a great feeling. A good bunch of guys. Guys that I care for. It’s fantastic.”
Guerin returned to the Penguins organization this past summer as player development coach. In his current role Guerin works with young prospects throughout the Penguins organization and assisting in their development of players. And the transition from player to front office has gone smoothly for the former 18-year NHL veteran.
“It’s going really well. I’m putting a lot of miles on my car and burning a lot of gas,” Guerin joked. “I’m also accumulating a lot of frequent flyer miles, so there’s a good side to it. It’s a great job. I really love my role.
“I’m paying my dues now. If you look at Tommy (Fitzgerald), Jason (Botterill) and even Ray (Shero), they spend a good amount of time on the road. They see games, prospects, draft eligible players, free agents. That’s part of the job.”
And Guerin’s work, along with many other individuals in the Penguins organization, is paying off as Dominik Uher
was named to the Czech World Junior Championship team, while four other prospects will attend WJC tryout camps – Kenny Agostino
, Josh Archibald
(United States); Joseph Morrow
, Scott Harrington
“On a positive note, all the prospects are doing well. Guys are having solid years,” Guerin said. “We have four guys at the World Junior tryouts and one already on the team. That’s a good sign. The guys in Wilkes-Barre are doing great. It’s pretty evident with the number of guys we have up here in Pittsburgh right now. Things are going well. I like our depth right now as an organization.”
Read more on Morrow and Harrington here
Read more on Agostino and Archibald here
Read: Agostino motivated to crack USA's roster
During the later years of his career, Guerin, 41, was a mentor to younger players in the locker room. And even though he’s no longer in the locker room, he’s still utilizing his mentoring skills with prospects.
“It’s something I was used to as an older player. Now it’s like that you just don’t get to play the games,” Guerin said. “I like trying to help these guys out and being there for them. There’s always something going on with so many guys to deal with.
“We try to touch base with them once every week or two weeks. ... We just want to monitor their progress. We want to be there if they need anything, advice, help, anything we can do to make their season better. That’s part of our job. We try to touch base with them as often as we can without interfering.”
And Guerin also touches base with the parent club whenever they visit Long Island, where he and his family reside. And his presence always provides a boost to the team, especially after a tough loss.
“On days like today when you had a bad loss and didn’t play very well it’s nice to have guys around that can do that,” Kunitz said.
Guerin helped the team stay loose while chirping Richard Park
and Simon Despres
. He saved a little for Pascal Dupuis
, who lent Guerin a pair of his gloves for practice.
“My hands were not very good today, not as good as usual,” Guerin joked. “But my shot was great. I’m using an (Arron) Asham stick.”
CHRIS KUNITZ TALKS ABOUT GUERIN: