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Guerin: Wild needs more consistency as team approaches quarter pole

GM pleased with some aspects and disappointed with others as Minnesota nears 20-game mark of his tenure

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

LOS ANGELES -- Six weeks into the 2019-20 regular season, Wild General Manager Bill Guerin has already noticed a couple of early trends. 

He's been pleased with the tight-knit nature of the team, something that actually has actually surprised him.

"That's not what I heard coming in," Guerin said. "In getting to know a lot of these guys and seeing them kind of operate in a lot of different settings - practice and training camp and Vail, socially, things like that, in games they stick up for each other, so I've been really happy with the chemistry and the camaraderie of the team."

Among the other things that have pleased the GM has been the team's work ethic and its attitude, despite a less than optimal start in the win-loss column. 

Minnesota's 6-10-1 record has it 14th in the 15-team Western Conference, but the Wild has played better hockey of late and can improve to 3-1 on a four-game West Coast trip with a victory on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings. 

"This just hasn't been the start that we were all hoping for, but they haven't wavered. And that was one of the things that we asked of them," Guerin said. "Whatever happens, because we had some challenging games to start, whatever happens just kind of stay the course and don't waver. And they've done that."

Guerin addressed the team's beat writers during a sort of "state of the team" gathering during the Wild's practice Monday afternoon in El Segundo, California. 

One of his biggest disappointments so far has been the Wild's overall consistency. 

"It's just disappointing because we've left a lot of points on the table," Guerin said. "You look back at a lot of the games, we've been in most games - there were a couple stinkers, but everybody's got those. But for the most part I feel like we've been in most games. We need to be more consistent with our effort. It's there, but even the other night, the game starts at 7, and sometimes we show up at 7:45. 

"Part of that is a little more consistency in putting together 60 minutes and things like that. You have very rarely have everybody playing their best hockey at the same time, but we're waiting for certain guys to take flight and get going and that'll create some more depth for us."

That consistency is what Guerin is trying to evaluate more than anything right now. In time, he will devise a plan that will likely re-shape the roster in his own vision. In that regard, he has his own timeline for when that day will come. He wouldn't reveal that time, but admitted it has yet to arrive.

"Right now, basically I just watch for our consistency and our effort. How hard do we play? How hard do we compete? Things like that," Guerin said. "You can always improve the team. You're always looking to improve every area -- forwards, [defensemen], goalie, everything. If there's an opportunity for me to make the team better I'll do it. That hasn't presented itself. I still want to give this group an opportunity. They deserve it. They earned it. They have been doing alright. It's just disappointing from a record and from a points aspect of it.

"I have my checkpoints ... Where are we at certain dates? What are we doing? Who's doing what? Those are things that I address at those times."

Guerin also said he's enjoyed working with coach Bruce Boudreau and the coaching staff as a whole. Boudreau is in the final year of a four-year contract he signed to become the Wild's coach in 2016.

"It's been great. Bruce is a wonderful guy. Like the whole coaching staff is. We all get along. We all have our good moments and our bad moments. But everybody is being evaluated all the time," Guerin said. "That's what this business is. We talked on a daily basis. The relationship is very good. But we're a team that just needs to keep getting better.

"He's our coach. I have a ton of respect for him and what he's done in his career and what he's doing right now and how we're working together, I really like it. Just like the players, we'll see where we are. But as of right now, everything is going really, really well with Bruce and I like Bruce."

In terms of the team's identity on the ice as it currently stands, Guerin said the group cannot show up and simply run and gun its way through opponents.

He's maintained a consistent message that the Wild must play a sound, structured unselfish game in order to have success. That's been his mantra since training camp and it hasn't changed as the season nears the quarter pole.

"We have to play with our structure, we have to compete extremely hard, and we have to play as a team. And when we do, we get results," Guerin said. "It's just like I said earlier, when we start thinking that we're something that we're not, we get in trouble."

Away from the rink, he and his wife, Kara, have settled into a place in Minneapolis and things there have started to calm down a bit.

The job itself has been what he thought it would be and he's enjoyed every minute of it so far.

"I've loved it every day, it's been awesome. Just coming into the community in Minneapolis and St. Paul has been fantastic," Guerin said. "My working relationship with everybody on the hockey side, the business side has been great. Everybody has been super helpful. 

"I still stand by it: we have a ton of support, we have everything that there is to build a winner. We just need to move forward and try to build a stronger team. But I've loved it, it's been awesome."

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