Monday, June 1, 2015

Bill Guerin Autograph Card

I thought I could start the month of June by checking #9 off my Oilers Numbers Project with this card of Bill Guerin's:
It's the signed insert version of card #53 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set, signed on-card in thin black sharpie with his number (9) tagged at the end, showing him in the Edmonton Oilers' white (then-home) mid-1990s uniform.

The fourth-overall pick of the 1989 NHL draft (by the New Jersey Devils), Guerin was a tough, no-nonsense, talented grinding goal scorer (in that order). Sure, he finished his career with a relatively even 429 goals and 427 assists (good for 856 points) in 1263 regular-season games and another 39 goals and 35 assists (74 points) in 140 playoff games, but he never really came close to the point-per-game mark, and yet had a 41-goal season (2001-02 with the Boston Bruins, the year he finished on the Second All-Star Team) and two other 30-goal seasons, and he once led the league with 10 game-winners (2003-04 with the Dallas Stars).

He also holds the NHL record of most teams with which an single player has had 20-goal seasons, with 7; only one other even has 5 (Eddie Shack).

Often a member of Team USA, he won the 1996 World Cup with Chris Chelios and Mike Richter, and has a silver medal (2002) in four Olympics. He played in four All-Star Games (2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007) and was named the MVP in his first appearance, scoring a hat trick (3 goals) with 2 assists playing on an All-American line with Tony Amonte and Doug Weight.

While he won Stanley Cups in New Jersey (1995) and with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009), I don't really like those organizations, and I'm iffy about the merits of those championship teams (the 1994-95 Trap Devils' lock-out Cup in particular), and I'm a pretty big fan of the Oilers, so I choose to mostly remember him playing for Edmonton. I also felt that he deserved the New York Islanders' captaincy (2007-09), as did Weight who followed him, and I wish he'd stayed with the St. Louis Blues a bit longer. Seeing him (and Weight) in blue was always a natural fit.

Guerin is now the Pen's assistant general manager, after starting as their player development coach upon retiring. I particularly liked when he answered Sportsnet's Doug MacLean on the issue of the Pens' reputation as whiners by... admitting to it. You can bet if there's one thing in the team's culture he'd like to change, that'd be it, considering how straight-ahead and balls-out he played - hard and fair, never giving up. A true leader.

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