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Guerin 'in the hunt' for Olympic bid

| Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009

Since March, Penguins winger Bill Guerin has gone about making a strong case to represent his native land for a fourth Olympic Games.

USA Hockey will announce its Olympic roster Friday.

"He has been a warrior for USA Hockey, part of our 'Greatest Generation,' to steal a phrase," Team USA general manager Brian Burke said of Guerin, who he agreed re-established his Olympics candidacy by performing at a high level and filling a veteran leadership role since joining the Penguins last March.

"He's still in the hunt for Vancouver."

Even if that hunt ends with Guerin sitting out an Olympics for the first time since the 1994 Lillehammer (Norway) Games, Guerin "likes the direction Burke is going in" - which reportedly will be youth-driven.

"We've got a great group of U.S. players that are at that age where they've got to start playing in these things and turn the page from our generation to the next," Guerin said.

Making a miracle
Team USA is not likely to include more than one forward from its "Greatest Generation" on the roster to compete at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. A look at the contenders for that spot:
Player Age Team Stats
Bill Guerin 39 Penguins 11 goals, 27 points
Mike Modano 39 Stars 5 goals, 13 points
Keith Tkachuk 37 Blues 8 goals, 21 points

Guerin, 39, played for Team USA squads that won the World Cup in 1996 and a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics - one of only three medal-winning American squads in the past 12 Games.

Trapped on a struggling New York Islanders squad at this time last season, he was not widely considered a contender to again represent the United States - even though he is one of a handful of players from that "Greatest Generation" who remain active in the NHL. Others include forwards Mike Modano (Dallas) and Keith Tkachuk (St. Louis).

A trade to the Penguins on March 4 afforded Guerin an opportunity to remind the hockey world that he remains a first-line force on and off the ice.

"On the first day he got here, it was like he'd been here for two years already," said Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, who is expected to play for Team USA in Vancouver.

"I understand what they want with the youth movement and a fresh wave of guys going here, but that's tough on younger guys. Look, I experienced that (with the Penguins) ... as prepared as you think you are, once you get into those situations, experience is not overrated.

"I go back to that first playoff game we had in Ottawa (2007); the first 10 minutes we were completely overwhelmed. So, I think it's important to have a couple of guys in place that can bring experience like that. Guys like Billy."

American-born Penguins forward Mike Rupp has shared a dressing with Guerin for only a few months - more than enough time, he said, to appreciate Guerin's contribution to the Stanley Cup champions.

"He's the guy you kind of look to as a compass," Rupp said. "When you have a young team, guys look at him to lead. What his role is here could be his role on the national front. He has every attribute of a veteran leader."

Plus, as Rupp noted, "from a hockey standpoint Billy is ... still productive."

Guerin's 11 goals this season give him 16 in 56 games with the Penguins. He is coming off a career-best postseason, with seven goals and 15 points.

"He can still bring it on the ice," Rupp said. "Given that, for me it would make sense to have him on the (Olympic) team."

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