He was not hear long but Bill Guerin made one heck of an impression on Pittsburgh Penguins fans. Helping a young team win the Stanley Cup will do that for a guy. Tonight, Billy G will be honored for his career in the NHL and various international tournaments with his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Guerin started his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils in 1991. Right away, Guerin made a reputation of being a outstanding two-way forward. A heavy hitter outfitted with a nose for the goal and a wiliness too play fisticuffs. He was a Devil until 1998 when he was dealt to the Edmonton Oliers who traded him in 2000 to the Boston Bruins. Guerin had minor stints with the Stars, Blues (who seem to always have a great American on the roster), and Sharks before landing with the New York Islanders in 2007. Here's where Penguins fans start to really care about Billy G.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were done in by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup because of a lack of veteran leadership and toughness. So on the 2009 trade deadline, general manage Ray Shero got veteran leadership and toughness by acquiring Guerin from the Isles for a measly third round draft pick. The move as a roaring success as Guerin tallied 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 17 regular games and went off for 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in the postseason. Oh, and the Pens won the Stanley Cup. It was Guerin's second Cup (1995 with the Devils).
Guerin played another season for the Pens before retiring in 2010. Though a career journeyman, Guerin discovered a home in Pittsburgh. In 2011, Shero named him player development coach and Billy G has been a stable within the organization since.
On Pittsburgh, Guerin said in 2010, "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.”
What's more amazing is how admirably Guerin played in the NHL and for the Red, White, and Blue in international tournaments. Billy G helped the U.S. win the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and was a Olympian for the 2002 and 2006 Games, winning a Silver Medal in 2002. His NHL numbers are great; 1,263 games with 429 goals and 856 points He scored twenty or goals with seven different teams and made four All-Star Games.
On playing for the United States, Guerin said, "Every chance I had to put on the U.S. jersey was an amazing experience. I don't want to say I appreciated it more than anyone else, but I appreciated it more within myself because it was taken away from me once. The first time that I got to play in the Olympics meant so much to me. It meant so much that I finally made that team, that I finally had my chance. I loved playing for the U.S. I loved it. I just thought it was the greatest thing."
To Pens fans, the greatest thing Guerin did was help the team win the Stanley Cup. For that, and for giving the organization a fantastic hockey mind to comb the youngsters, we say thank you. Thank you and congratulations Bill Guerin on entering the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
So altogether . . . Billy G!
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