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Whatever the 'It' factor is, Guerin's got it

New Wild GM is respected League-wide for his leadership and work ethic both on and off the ice

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- When it comes to the elusive "it" factor, there really isn't a way to measure it. No matter who the subject is, they either have it, or they don't.

Just 24 hours from the time he was unveiled as the fourth general manager in Wild history, one thing has already become perfectly clear. 

Whatever "it" is ... Bill Guerin has it in spades.

"We sensed it immediately," Wild owner Craig Leipold said Thursday moments after the press conference announcing Guerin as the new head of his hockey operation. "It's just one of those things [we saw] even more so this time than a year and a half ago when we spoke with Billy. You just sense, walking in now, he's very confident, clearly has presence. 

"And that 'it' factor ... it's a valuable factor."

Tweet from @mnwild: "They were always incredibly supportive of me and that makes this day so special. Thank you to my family for everything you've done for me." ��� Bill Guerin #mnwild

That "it" is one of the major reasons why Leipold was so excited to add Mike Modano to his staff earlier this offseason. Modano, a former teammate of Guerin both in Dallas and in several international competitions with USA Hockey, was a big part of the latest rounds of interviews with prospective GM candidates. 

Finding "it" is not something you can just put on a potential wishlist and check it off when you see it.

"It" walks in a room and you know it immediately.

"He's got that presence, he's got that respect and the players all love him," Modano said. "I've gotten calls and texts from everybody in the game of hockey that couldn't say enough good things about him and they're excited about the hire."

A big part of that presence is the fact he's hoisted a Stanley Cup on four occasions. In doing so, he's had a front row seat to some of the NHL's best franchises over the past 30 years.

His first Cup came as a member of the New Jersey Devils in 1995, the first of three championships New Jersey would win in a nine-year span.

His second as a player came in 2009 as a member of the Penguins, again the first of three titles in a stretch of nine seasons. Pittsbugh's back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017 came with Guerin in crucial front office roles.

"It's incredible. I'm dying to win it one time in my life and he's done it four times," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "When he talks, it's like EF Hutton to me. People listen because he's talking and, 'This is how we did it, this is how we won and why we won.' It's not made up, it's all good stuff."

Like Hutton, an American financier and the founder of one of America's finest financial firms of the early 20th Century, the Penguins have become a sort of gold standard when it comes to cranking out heads of hockey operations.

Including Guerin, four of the NHL's 31 general managers are products of the Pittsburgh front office. That doesn't count Jim Rutherford, the Penguins current GM who has served as Guerin's mentor for the past five years.

"Any time you're with an organization that has won a few Cups, that's always a good thing," Leipold said. 

Those championships certainly carry weight in the dressing room, where Guerin was an opponent of several current members of the Wild roster.

It's been a decade since he retired as a player, but for guys like Mikko Koivu and Eric Staal, Guerin's reputation on the ice as a hard-working, competitive, blue collar player translates easily to the front office.

The fact that he's got a fist full of championship jewelry only helps.

"He gets it. You're not on teams that win if you don't understand how it works, and he gets it as a player, and obviously in management as well," Staal said. "This is a great opportunity for him and I'm excited to be here and be alongside and help out any way I can."


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