Bill Guerin

Former NHL forward Bill Guerin named Pittsburgh Penguins’ player development coach

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ core players were wrapped up in different deals years ago. Now it seems like the team is taking measures to keep their coaching staff together, so why not add an old friend who can bridge the gap between players and front office as well?

Just two years after being a part of the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup-winning squad, Bill Guerin was named Pittsburgh’s player development coach today. The team explains that Guerin will work with prospects throughout the Penguins’ organization, including minor league, junior-level and college hockey players.

This follows the team’s decision to hand multi-year contract extensions to much of their coaching staff. The Penguins gave extensions to assistant coaches Tony Granato, Todd Reirden and Gilles Meloche as well as conditioning coach Mike Kadar. They also wrapped up Wilkes-Barre Scranton head coach John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine, his assistant coach.

Perhaps most importantly, the team also signed GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma to contract extensions in recent times. When you consider the fact that they have their essential young forwards, defensemen and franchise goalie wrapped up for the near-future, the Penguins simply need to focus on getting healthy and playing their best hockey rather than worrying about sweeping changes from year to year.

Few franchises enjoy the kind of stability the Penguins are putting themselves in position to enjoy. Beyond more obvious questions about the health of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the biggest issue might just be motivation. Will key figures go stagnant with the security that comes with long-term extensions?

With those injury issues and big chunk of role players at the forward position primed for free agency this summer, the Penguins should be interesting to watch in July and 2011-12. If nothing else, they can be confident about having a stable front office in place to try to make decisions that are in the franchise’s best interest.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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