Bill Guerin, who officially retired from the NHL Monday afternoon, played his last career game in a Penguins uniform. Even though he attended the Philadelphia Flyers training camp this year, Guerin, 40, was still a Penguin to the very end.
“I went to camp in Philly and I tried it,” Guerin said. “I was OK with it being over. My heart was here, and there was no reason for me to keep hanging on. I ended with a good year. That’s how I wanted it. I feel like I’m going out on my terms.”
Guerin’s attachment to Pittsburgh was so strong that he chose to retire as a Penguin, even though he’s played for eight different teams. He also made the announcement on a day when the Penguins host the New Jersey Devils – the first team Guerin ever played for after the team drafted him fifth overall in 1989.
“I came across so many great teammates, so many great organizations – a lot of organizations actually. But two in particularly that are extremely special to me are the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins,” said Guerin, who won a Stanley Cup with each team in his career. “The Devils gave me my start. Lou LamorIello had a lot of faith in me. He picked me in the draft and gave me my start in this league. To him, I’m forever grateful for that.
“On the backside, the last team that I ever played for was the Penguins. It was one of the most positive experiences of my life. They were great in bringing me here. My family and I bonded with this team and with this community. Fortunately, we were able to win the Stanley Cup as a family together. It was amazing.”
Guerin felt right at home in Pittsburgh after arriving via a trade deadline move in March of 2009. The fans immediately embraced Guerin and his family – wife Kara and four children. Guerin’s son, Liam, was also well loved by the city for holding his “My Dad Rocks” sign at home games.
“I knew it was different when Kara and the kids came to the first game and they had their signs up. They kept getting on the jumbotron,” Guerin said. “People in Pittsburgh I think related to us and we related to the people here.
“I’m just a regular Joe. I’ve got a wife and four kids. I embarrass my daughters just like everybody else. My son thinks I’m a dork sometimes. We like to play Star Wars and lightsaber fights. I think it was a good match.”
And now that Guerin’s has taken off his gloves forever, he will have to figure out what to do with his free time. He’s dabbled in some TV appearances on the Versus Network, and has shadowed Penguins assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald to learn the ropes of hockey operations.
“I’m trying to figure that out right now,” Guerin said. “There are so many different levels on what you can do in this business and I’m just trying to figure that out. … I’m trying to figure out exactly what I want to do and that may take some time. I do want to stay in the game.”
While he doesn’t know what he’ll do in the long run, Guerin does know what he will do in the immediate future.
“First and foremost I’m just trying to spend time with my family,” he said. “My kids have been without their father from time to time since the day they were born. I want to spend time at home.”
Guerin ended his retirement announcement with some touching words for his family.
“There's not much I can actually say because I couldn't put into words what you mean to me, what you've sacrificed and how much you guys have done for me. I love you incredibly. I'm looking forward to spending more time with you, and doing all the things I've dreamt about for a long time. I'm looking forward to the second half of my life and you guys being the focal point. I love you guys. Thank you.”