Bill Guerin still shows up to the rink in a suit on game days; however, when the puck drops he’s high above the ice watching from a suite as the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager.
The view gives him a new found appreciation for the game’s biggest star, Sidney Crosby.
Guerin was a teammate of Crosby’s for parts of two seasons (2009-10) capturing his second Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009.
“Night-in, night-out you get spoiled watching him, said Guerin. “One of the best things is watching him in practice, watching his work ethic, watching what he can do with the puck when it’s practice, when you’re working on things and you’re trying different things.
“That’s when you get a real appreciation for what he does.”
Originally the fifth overall pick at the 1989 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils, Guerin appeared in 1,263 games with the Devils, Oilers, Bruins, Stars, Blues, Sharks, Islanders and Penguins scoring 429 goals and 856 points.
Guerin first played with Crosby six years ago, with a then 21-year-old ‘Sid the Kid’.
According to Guerin, the biggest improvement he’s seen in the now 27-year-old Crosby has nothing to do with his on-ice skills.
“I think he controls his emotions a lot more,” said Guerin. “I think he’s really brought a calming affect to the room.”
Crosby admits he’s learned to pick his spots better and approaches the game with a calmer demeanour.
“Hopefully with more experience you learn that it’s a little bit better to stay even keel,” Crosby said following his second three-point performance of the season Saturday. “I don’t think you want to take the emotion out of the game. I feel that passion and energy is something that I need to play with.
“But I think just knowing when to maybe turn it down is important so hopefully that’s something that gets better as you get older.”
Added former linemante Pascal Dupuis, “He matured as a hockey player, matured as a person and it shows on the ice.”
With three goals and six points through the first two games of the season, Crosby is off to his best start since the 2011-12 season when he had seven points in the first three games of the season.
He appears further motivated by how the 2013-14 season ended – a loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Easter Conference semifinals.
In the offseason the Penguins cleared out the front office firing GM Ray Shero and head coach Dan Bylsma.
“You come in with the mentality that you want to start quick, get some momentum, get some confidence,” said Crosby. “Had a long summer, had a lot of time to think about last year, we’re all pretty excited to get started. I think everybody’s excited to get started, but it’s nice to see it translate into a couple wins.”
He’s also learning to play with a new linemate in offseason acquisition, Patric Hornqvist.
“It’s really fun; he competes hard, goes to the net hard. He’s got a great shot,” said Crosby. “I think between the three of us we try to dig lose pucks out, go to the net and generate chances.”
The line, which includes Chris Kunitz, has combined for six goals and 12 points through the Penguins first two games of the season.
They’ll have plenty of time to grow as a line this week as Pittsburgh doesn’t play until Thursday when they host the Dallas Stars.