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Guerin eager to get to work ahead of training camp

Players and coaches will report for media day activities just three weeks after introductory press conference

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- With his official hire coming just 22 days before the start of training camp, there is only so much new Wild General Manager Bill Guerin can do to shape the team's roster before the start of the 2019-20 season.

Guerin's first order of official business came Wednesday afternoon when the Wild re-signed restricted free agent centerman Joel Eriksson Ek to a two year, $2.9 million contract.

Other than that, the only remaining RFAs left unsigned are forward Kevin Fiala and defenseman Louie Belpedio. Each will need a new contract before they report to Minnesota for camp.

With his hands tied by the timeline of events, Guerin says he will go about meeting and learning as much as he can before players, coaches and staff convene at TRIA Rink at Treasure Island Center for the first on-ice activities on Sept. 13.

Video: Players, staff react to GM hire

"I think the biggest thing, first and foremost, is communication. Communication with [Wild coach] Bruce [Boudreau], with Tommy Kurvers, with a lot of the players, a lot of the staff members," Guerin said. "I have to get out there and get to know these people a lot better, find out what's going on here, sit with everything and go from there."

Despite his nearly two decade-long playing career and another eight years in management, Guerin doesn't have established relationships with fellow hockey lifers Boudreau and Kurvers. 

He never played for a Boudreau-coached team and Kurvers was near the end of his playing career when Guerin was breaking into the NHL. 

There are connections of course: Guerin has worked the past five years under Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who has a long-time friendship with Boudreau. 

And Guerin and Kurvers know each other from years crossing paths on the scouting circuit.

But developing that rapport will be crucial over the next few weeks and months as Guerin settles in and the evaluation process commences.

Video: New Wild GM Bill Guerin Press Conference

"Right now, it's pretty early. I just got here [Wednesday], so my first thing I'd like to do first is just kind of get together with everybody, get to know my staff better and evaluate," Guerin said. "Evaluate what's been going on here, get a lot of people's opinions and move forward. 

"Our staff is in place, our coaches are in place, our players are in place, so I guess the timing is odd, but it's not bad. I just need to take the time to get to know what's going on, and then I'll have to make adjustments as we move along."

Guerin and Boudreau chatted briefly before Guerin's press conference at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, a conversation that was more of an introduction that Boudreau said went well. 

Those conversations continued after the press conference and will likely do so every day for the foreseeable future.

"The positive approach, all of those things ... It's a breath of fresh air," Boudreau said. "I'm really looking forward to working with him and I'm really looking forward to this season."

This time of year typically offers a lot of hope as players filter back into town and prepare for the start of camp. They're always excited to get going, but with a new general manager in the building, there seems to be an extra pep in everyone's step. 

"Talking to all the players, and I've talked to an awful lot of them recently, is that they're hungry," Boudreau said. "The media hasn't been really kind to us all summer long. I think XM picked us to be 32nd in a 31 team league. We have a lot to prove and we think our team is pretty good. We have a lot of good NHL players here. We have a team that's going to surprise an awful lot of players."

Video: Guerin prepared for General Manager role

On that, Guerin agreed. Before things ramped up on Thursday, Guerin said he was able to take a step back and check out the Wild's depth chart in the war room at the team's headquarters. 

He believes Minnesota has a chance to win immediately and Guerin says he's anxious to build upon what he believes is a strong foundation.

"You look at the names, and there are good players. We have a lot of good hockey players," Guerin said. "I think if you looked at the past 10 years of what's gone on in Minnesota, they're consistently a playoff team. We missed last year, but that happens to the best of teams. I think what's most important is how we're going to move forward from that. 

"But there are a lot of really good players up on that board. We've got a coach that's won a ton of games. We've got Stanley Cup winners. We've got guys who have won in this league for a long time, and I'm confident this group is going to bounce back."


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