Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Bill Guerin Autographed Card

Bill Guerin has a tough job ahead of him as the Minnesota Wild's new GM, one made even tougher because he should have landed it a year and a half earlier and he instead has to clean up the mess inherited by the guy who did get that job, Paul Fenton.

It's unclear whether all of Fenton's moves came because he had some sort of plan or because team owner Craig Leopold forced him to make them by refusing to go through a rebuild, but the fact of the matter was that fan favourites Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter left town and another one, Jason Zucker, was repeatedly shopped around. Mikael Granlund (who still finished third in team scoring despite having left at three-quarters of the season), veteran Matt Hendricks and 25-year-old defenseman Ryan Murphy were also sent packing.

Victor Rask, Ryan Donato, Kevin Fiala, and Pontus Aberg (who came and went) did not have an immediate impact with the team.

While some of the moves looked like a shift towards icing a younger club, Fenton also signed oft-injured free agent veteran offensive spark plug Mats Zuccarello to a five-year deal. Hiring Zuccarello made sense for at least 20 teams, and to those terms to possibly a dozen of them (even if only to stop competitors from hiring him themselves) - just not the Wild, who already crumble under overpaying for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter for too long and need the rest of their lineup to look like financial steals.

To be honest, I wasn't entirely sold on Fenton even though he came with a good reputation from his previous position as assistant-GM with the Nashville Predators, and I'm not 100% confident Guerin (who held the same position with the Pittsburgh Penguins and is friends and former teammates many times over of Wild executive Mike Modano) can right this ship without going through a complete five-year rebuild then going through the growing pains of a young roster for five more.

My dream job in the current-day NHL landscape would be GM (although I may be best qualified at the moment as a goaltending scout), but I would not take the Wild job on even if it was my only shot at it - it seems like a no-win situation.

That being said, he's won two Stanley Cups as a player (1995 with the New Jersey Devils, 2009 with the Penguins) and two more as assistant-GM (2016 and 2017 with the Pens), played in four All-Star Games (2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007), been a captain (2007-09, New York Islanders).

Internationally, he's suited up for Team USA in two World Juniors championships, the 1996 and 2004 World Cup (winning in 1996), as well as the 198, 2002 and 2006 Olympics, winning silver in 2002.

Here he is sporting the American team's blue (away) Nike Olympic uniform on card #96 from In The Game's 2007-08 O Canada set and Formidable Foes sub-set:
He signed it in blue sharpie in the 2017 or 2018 as a member of the Penguins' front office, tagging his usual #13 jersey number at the end.

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