Bill Guerin: 5 Greatest Moments as a Pittsburgh Penguin
18-year NHL veteran Bill Guerin formally announced his retirement from the League prior to a Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils game Monday evening.
Guerin felt it was important to make the announcement on the day the two most important teams, to him, faced each other.
Minutes before the opening faceoff, Guerin joined his family at center ice for a moving tribute dedicated to his short stint in Pittsburgh and also accepted gifts, a thank you from Penguins organization. The cheers rained down especially loud when Head Coach Dan Bylsma presented Guerin with his #13 jersey which he quickly pulled over his head as eagerly as he did 21 years ago when he was drafted by the Devils.
Everyone involved with this Penguins team, be it the staff, players and fans, know what Guerin meant to this franchise despite his short stay. Throughout his career, Guerin has been the model of a class athlete and a fantastic American representative of the sport of hockey on so many levels, from the national to the international stage.
But to the those who cheer for the black and gold, nothing beats what he did for the young Penguins team, especially in the months following his trade to the organization.
Guerin will always be a cherished member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and even his short stay wasn't without its memorable moments.
Here are Bill Guerin's five greatest moments as a Penguin.
Laura Falcon is a Featured Columnist for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Follow her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com with any comments.
5. Guerin to Crosby, First Point
For the Pens, everything changed on March 4, 2009.
An old man with a wry smile and a quick wrister came to town.
Guerin was traded from the New York Islanders to Pittsburgh for a conditional draft pick (it was later deemed a third round pick) and he made his presence known immediately. His first day on the team, he capped off his grand entrance by taking jabs at captain Sidney Crosby just seconds after meeting him.
The next day, an away game against the Florida Panthers, solidified Guerin's chemistry with Crosby by picking up his first assist as Penguin on Crosby's goal that tied the game at one.
It was an effortless outlet pass that came from the flick of Guerin's wrist and went right to Crosby's tape who split the defense and sneaked the puck by the seemingly-impenetrable goalie Tomas Vokoun. The goal came only 24 seconds after Florida put one on the board.
The goal was also a sign of many goals to come involving the two players.
4. Guerin Drops the Gloves With Slater
Who would have the thought Guerin still had the fiestiness of a 24-year-old?
With the score 0-0 against the Atlanta Thrashers, the Pens were feeling the frustration brew as each of their shots were swallowed up by goalie and ex-Penguin Johan Hedberg. By the end of the first period, a 39-year-old Guerin tried to get his team going by engaging with 26-year-old center Jim Slater.
Age typically brings with it a slowness that was often evident in Guerin's skating and decision-making, but not in this spirited fight.
Guerin was landing haymakers all over Slater's head and lower neck before forcing his jersey over his head, throwing a few uppercuts for good measure and tackling him to the ice.
The answer to everyone's question was "Yes, the old man still has it in him."
Just the sound of the crowd proves what they thought of Guerin's leadership.
3. 0.4 Seconds
After a successful October in 2009, the Pens found themselves amidst a frustrating slump in November.
In a game against the Boston Bruins, the two teams swapped goals like a tennis match until the Bruins seemed to have the Pens beat after scoring two consecutive goals in the third to take a 5-4 lead.
With Fleury pulled, the Pens staged their last attempt to snap out of their losing streak, but with 10 seconds remaining in the game and both teams fighting for the puck in the corner of the Pens' zone, it didn't look like it would happen.
The puck was finally freed and by chance, Bruins defenseman Patrice Bergeron's stick broke when he attempted to clear the puck and seal away the game in his team's favor.
What resulted was a three-on-two with seven seconds remaining.
Malkin had Crosby and Bill Guerin with him in the final rush. He sent a perfect pass to Guerin's stick who wasted no time ripping a shot by goalie Tim Thomas and off the post to tie the game with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock.
Mellon Arena erupted in ear-splitting cheers as five Penguins piled on top of Guerin who was pressed up against the glass. All talks of his sluggish game were silenced after watching how quickly he released the puck that sent the Pens into overtime.
The Pens brought home the W in overtime, thus ending their slump.
2. Guerin's Power Play Goal in Game 2 Against the Flyers
Video courtesy of dugup46
5-on-3s don't happen often in the playoffs after games have headed into overtime.
But in Game 2 of the 2009 Quarterfinals against the Philadelphia Flyers, both teams were at the end of a 4-on-4 when Claude Giroux broke Chris Kunitz's stick in half. The subsequent penalty gave the Pens a very rare 5-on-3.
With the fans on the edge of their seats, they watched as the Pens briefly juggled the puck until Gonchar faked a shot and passed it to Guerin on the doorstep who shoved it behind goalie Marty Biron.
The goal made the series 2-0 in favor of Pittsburgh, a huge moment for the team who would head over to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4. Everyone wearing black and gold knew they didn't want to head East with the series tied 1-1.
Guerin's goal gave the Pens a comfortable cushion and they could continue on in the series without the pressures of a necessary split on Philadelphia's ice.
This was easily his biggest goal in a Penguin jersey.
1. Second Time in 14 Years
Many players enter and leave the NHL without touching the League's Holy Grail.
For Guerin, his Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995. Players talk about wanting nothing more than that second opportunity to hoist the Cup, especially after experiencing the moment when your team has won it all.
However, the second chance didn't seem in the stars for Guerin, especially when he landed in the dying New York Islanders franchise. Of course, his trade to Pittsburgh in the middle of the 2008-2009 season changed everything.
Guerin helped his new team plow through rivals Philadelphia and Washington and put away a pesky Carolina team which placed them atop the Eastern Conference, earning them the chance to raise Lord Stanley.
A wild seven games later, Guerin was given that second opportunity many players would kill to have. 14 years separated his Stanley Cup wins and he made it clear that each win was very different, due to the fact that he had a family of four children to help him celebrate his victory.
Crosby claimed the Stanley Cup from Commissioner Gary Bettman on behalf of the team and the first hand-off went to Guerin.
The gesture probably surprised Guerin the most, but everyone in the organization, from ownership to fanbase, understood why Crosby passed the Cup to Guerin first: without Guerin, there was a good chance there would have been one less Stanley Cup banner to hang in the Consol Energy Center.