Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Born on this date in 1970, Bill Guerin played 19 seasons in the NHL with eight different clubs, winning Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils in 1995 and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. The 14 years Guerin went between cups is the third longest wait after Chris Chelios' 6 years and Mark Recchi's 15.
He was drafted in 1989 by New Jersey and made his NHL debut during the 1991-92 season after playing his college hockey for Boston College, just an hour and a half from his hometown of Wilbraham, Massachusetts.
During his NHL career, Guerin served as captain of the New York Islanders in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and made four NHL All-Star Game appearances in 2001 when he was the game's MVP, 2003, 2004 and 2007. He was also the first player in NHL history to score 20 goals in a season for seven different teams.
He played 1,263 games during his career, scoring 429 goals, including a career high 41 goals in 2001-02, and 427 assists for 856 points, Additionally, he racked up 1,660 penalty minutes, a testament to his tough, hard-nosed style of play.
Calculating Guerin's NHL career jersey total, he is hampered by playing so many seasons in New Jersey, but was present for the change in style from the red and green jerseys worn during his rookie season (2) to their now traditional red and black jerseys (2). While with the Edmonton Oilers he wore just the home and road (2) before moving to the Boston Bruins, who wore an alternate style (3). Guerin was present in Dallas for their great looking home and road jerseys, but unfortunately that era included the notorious "Mooterus" alternate (3). While in St. Louis with the Blues it was just the home and roads (2) but the San Jose Sharks provided an alternate for his brief stay there (3). The Islanders added a throwback for an alternate (3) and the Penguins adopted their Winter Classic jerseys as an alternate the following season (3) for a total of 23, far short of Mike Sillinger's 40, but any career that totals in the 20's is noteworthy and a sure sign of longevity.
Guerin made his international hockey debut in 1989 at the World Junior Tournament in Anchorage, Alaska where he played 7 games, contributing 3 assists. During his first season at Boston College, Guerin competed in his second World Juniors, this time in Helsinki, Finland.
After his graduation from college, Guerin played the majority of the 1991-92 season with the United States National Team, appearing in 46 games while scoring 27 points before making his NHL debut later that same season.
After playing five seasons for the Devils, Guerin returned to international competition for the first time in four years as a member of Team USA at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, which proved to be the Americans greatest triumph since the 1980 Olympics, as the United States defeated Canada 3 games to 2 in the finals.
Guerin celebrates with his teammates on the bench at the 1996 World Cup
Guerin next skated for the United States at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, the first Olympics to feature the NHL's best, as the league suspended it's regular season schedule for the first time to allow it's players to participate. Unfortunately, the US bowed out quickly with a 1-3 record.
Once again on home ice, the United States looked to duplicate it's success in 1960 and 1980 at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City under 1980 head coach Herb Brooks. This time out, the United States started strong by winning it's group with a 2-0-1 record and then advanced with wins over Germany and a thrilling defeat of Russia to earn a berth in the gold medal game thanks to their undefeated record. After falling to Canada, Guerin and the Americans had to settle for the silver medal, but a fine showing against the world's best in front of the home fans.
Guerin and the Americans take on Russia in Salt Lake City
Two seasons later Guerin was back in the red, white and blue of the United States as a member of Team USA for the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. The US would struggle through the North American Pool with a 1-2 record, but come to life with a sound defeat of Russia 5-3 in the quarterfinals before falling to Finland 2-1 in the semifinals despite leading after two periods.
Modano, Drury, Guerin and Tkachuk celebrate a goal at the 2004 World Cup
Guerin's final international tournament would be the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. With eight members of the 1996 World Cup team on the roster, it would be final tournament for the finest generation of American players. They would place fourth in Group B and were eliminated to eventual finalist Finland in the quarterfinals 4-3.
In 35 international tournament appearances, Guerin would score 7 goals (4 of those in the 2002 Olympics) and 10 assists for 17 points while earning a gold medal in 1996 and a silver in 2002.
Today's featured jersey is a 2002 Team USA Bill Guerin jersey as worn in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics as the United States made it to the gold medal final, eventually being awarded the silver medal. Guerin's four goals tied him for second on the team after John LeClair's 6.
This style jersey made it's debut in 2002 and remained in use at the World Juniors, World Championships, Olympics and finally the 2004 World Cup until being replaced in 2005.
In today's video section, Guerin and Dallas Drake throw haymakers in one of the best hockey fights you will ever see. We're not sure what Guerin was up to before the fight, but Keith Primeau doesn't hesitate to try to get in his licks as well!
In this next clip, Guerin raises the Stanley Cup and celebrates after winning in 2009.
Finally, the Penguins hold an on ice ceremony for Guerin at the time of his retirement.