Penguins notebook: Top brass present to salute Guerin
The Penguins traveled east Monday, but several senior members of their organization headed in the opposite direction. They were going to Detroit to help honor one of their own.
Penguins player development coach Bill Guerin took part in enshrinement ceremonies for the United States Hockey Hall of Fame at the Sound Board at Motor City Casino.
“This is a tremendous honor for Billy Guerin and his family, and I think it really captures what Billy was about as a player,” said Penguins general manager Ray Shero by phone from Detroit prior to the ceremonies. “You look at what he accomplished over an 18-year career, you see the impact he had on the game.”
Guerin, a Massachusetts native, played in the NHL from 1992-2010. He spent his final 130 games (including playoffs) with the Penguins as Sidney Crosby's right wing. Acquired at the 2009 trade deadline, Guerin helped the team win the Stanley Cup that June.
Guerin, 43, had 429 goals and 427 assists in 1,263 games with New Jersey (with which he won the 1995 Stanley Cup), Edmonton, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, San Jose, the New York Islanders and Penguins. Guerin also played at Boston College and was part of three U.S. Olympic team rosters.
“(The induction) is quite an honor, and he deserves it,” Crosby said. “He had a great career. He brought a lot to us when he came here. He's a great guy to have around, and winning the Cup with him, of course, was special, too, so I'm happy for him.”
Shero was joined in Detroit by assistant general manager Jason Botterill, assistant to the general manager Tom Fitzgerald, director of player personnel Dan MacKinnon, scout Brian Fitzgerald and vice president of communications Tom McMillan.
“You can't get anyone to say any bad things about Billy,” Shero said of the gregarious Guerin. “He's a guy who is never at a loss for words, but this experience has been so genuinely humbling for him, he's kind of at a loss for words right now, if you can believe it.”
Guerin's friend and former teammate Doug Weight is among the other four members of the 2013 induction class, which was announced in July.
Weight recalled his father putting him on skates at the age of 2 because he could barely walk due to a childhood condition that relegated him to wearing braces on his legs.
“He started putting me on the ice to strengthen them at the suggestion from a doctor,” he said.
Weight said it wasn't a pretty sight at the rink in St. Clair Shores, Mich.
“I looked like Forrest Gump,” he joked.
Weight was a Stanley Cup champion, three-time Olympian and four-time NHL All-Star. He was inducted in the city where he grew up.
“It's very special, three different NHL teams and nine teams in all,” Weight said about the number of times he teamed up with Guerin. “It's a pretty incredible run together.
“It's icing on the cake to go in with Billy.”
Weight and Guerin's wives and children have become friends over the years.
“It couldn't have worked out any better,” Guerin said.
Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. former college coach Ron Mason and Cindy Curley, one of the pioneers in women's hockey, also were inducted.
“The women's game is way behind the men's game and it hasn't been around as long,” Curley said. “We are all, as women, patient for the opportunities that the guys have had. The fact that the Hall is considering women is exciting to me. I know there's so many great players that deserve to be in here that will be. I'm just honored that they considered me.”
Malkin No. 1 star — again
For the second consecutive week, Evgeni Malkin was named the First Star by the NHL for the period of Nov. 25-Dec. 1.
Malkin had three goals and nine assists in four games for the Penguins, who went 3-0-1. Malkin had a goal and seven assists in four games played during the prior week and completed November with 25 points (four goals, 21 assists) in 15 games.
Forward Chuck Kobasew returned to practice, but no further update was given by coach Dan Bylsma. Kobasew has not played since Oct. 28 because of a broken left foot. … Simon Despres was the loser of the shootout contest, meaning he is December's “Mustache Boy.” Zach Sill, who was skating on the fourth line alongside Craig Adams and Joe Vitale in lieu of Jayson Megna, was the other “finalist.”