Bill Guerin has won two Stanley Cups, is a three-time Olympian and scored 829 points (429G-427A) in 1,263 games in the National Hockey League.
Meeting a man who’s had such an illustrious career is an intimidating premise for some of the young prospects that Guerin is working with as the Penguins’ player development coach, a role he officially undertook in June.
In fact, some players even called him “Mr. Guerin” at last week’s prospect development camp. But as most Penguins fans would expect, Guerin straightened them out quickly.
“I put an end to that right away,” Guerin laughed. “You can call me Bill, Billy G. or Billy, whatever. One of the three, but not Mr. Guerin.”
While Guerin, 40, has an impressive hockey resume, he’s one of the most down-to-earth, affable human beings you could hope to meet – which is invaluable when it comes to building relationships with these young players and helping them grow.
“You have that high-profile guy that is so approachable,” said Tom Fitzgerald, Penguins assistant to the general manager. “That makes him the special person that he is.”
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When Guerin came to the Penguins as a player at the trade deadline in 2009, the quick-witted forward may have been known for being a prankster in the locker room, but he also quietly undertook the role of mentor for some of his youthful teammates – and thoroughly enjoyed it.
That’s part of the reason why he loves his current role so much.
“This is just what I enjoy,” he said. “Even as an older player, I liked trying to mentor some of the younger guys and trying to help those guys along. This is along the same lines – just without being in the locker room with them. I just try to help these guys become good Pittsburgh Penguins and make it to the next level.”
Guerin knows from experience that hockey is a business and that since these young men have chosen it as their careers, they must take it seriously in order to achieve their goals. But he also knows that in order to have lasting success, you must love what you do.
The fact that Guerin so clearly enjoys what he does is something that has resonated with the prospects.
“It’s great having him around the rink,” said Beau Bennett
, the Penguins’ first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2010 Entry Draft. “One thing you notice from him is that he enjoys being around the guys, being around the rink. He really has fun with it. That’s what I try to bring to the rink every day. A guy like that, you just want to take everything he says with you next year and really pay attention to him.”
Guerin may have played in the NHL for 18 years, but he’s the first to admit he still has much to learn about the other side of the hockey business. But with the positivity and passion Guerin brings to everything he does, he’s doing just fine so far.
“I’m learning a lot,” Guerin said. “I’m learning something every day. It’s different on this side. There’s a lot more that goes into it than you would think, than a player thinks. It’s a lot of fun right now and it’s a good group to work with.”