While out of town for the last few days, I was happy to see the Penguins keep trucking along and extend their winning streak. As I stepped off the plane Monday afternoon, my heart sank a little after seeing the news about Bill Guerin announcing his retirement.
I haven’t had the chance to formally meet Guerin, but from everyone I’ve spoken with, he’s one of the nicest guys and has a true passion for the game of hockey.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if General Manager Ray Shero would have brought someone else in at the trade deadline instead of Guerin, we wouldn’t have celebrated a Stanley Cup in 2009.
To me, Guerin was the guy who was able to be a leader for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, etc., to look up to while keeping the locker room loose. There wasn’t much that Guerin hadn’t gone through in his career and that experience paid off for the Pens.
When it came down to business, Guerin stepped up. Remember that goal he scored in Game 2 against the Flyers in overtime? I was at a bar in Maine going nuts with only one other Penguins fan in the building and I’ll never forget it.
Despite me rooting against him and the Devils with every fiber of my being when they won the Stanley Cup in 1995, Guerin will go down as one of my favorite Penguins of all-time.
Looking back on it all, I wish he would have been here longer. The connection between him and this city is something not achieved by many in such a short time period. However, there are reports out there that say he will likely end up in the Penguins’ front office, so maybe his time in Pittsburgh isn’t over.
What also shows me how much respect he has for the Penguins’ organization is that he chose to retire as a member of the Pens. Last night’s retirement ceremony was the perfect way for Guerin to go out.
His family by his side, he donned the black and gold for one final time as the last team he played for prepared to take on the first team he played for.
Statistically, there’s nothing to analyze: 429 goals, 427 assists and two Stanley Cups. He’s one of the best American-born players to ever lace up skates. Period.
It was a fitting end to a fantastic career for, by all accounts, one of the nicest guys in the sport. I won’t forget the impact he had on the Penguins and even though he is done playing the game, his effect on the team will still be felt years down the road.
What he did for this team earns him a free pass for wearing the black and orange in Philly for a couple weeks this summer. Just kidding Bill, I can’t fault a guy for wanting to continue to play the game.
You gave us a lot of great memories Bill Guerin, but I’d like to especially thank you for this:
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