Bill Guerin is finally getting a chance to run an NHL team and he has a big challenge ahead of him.
The Minnesota Wild has announced the hiring of the 48-year-old Guerin as their new general manager. He will replace Paul Fenton, who was fired in July after only one season.
“Bill has been a winner throughout his hockey career and I am extremely pleased to be able to add his experience to our organization and The State of Hockey,” said Wild owner Craig Leipold.
Guerin has worked for the Pittsburgh Penguins organization since 2011 starting as a development coach before moving his way up to assistant GM under Jim Rutherford. He spent 18 seasons in the NHL and won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins and the New Jersey Devils.
Leipold and team president Matt Majka headed the search for Fenton’s replacement and were helped out by executive advisor and Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano, who played with Guerin for three seasons with the Dallas Stars as well as the United States national team. Guerin had been a candidate for several GM jobs over the last few years, and even interviewed with the Wild last summer before they hired Fenton.
[MORE: Will Wild learn from the failed Fenton era?]
The Wild failed to qualify for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, this first time they’ve missed since 2012. With a roster loaded with older veterans eating up cap space and sprinkled in with some young talent, there will be plenty of work for Guerin to do to try and figure out a way to make the franchise a consistent winner again. There is no teardown coming as part of a full rebuild and it’s going to be a long wait before some of the contracts on their books expire. Guerin will have to get creative in order to infuse the roster with new blood and hope some of the organization’s youngsters take big steps forward.
Despite the turbulent off-season, the confident from up top in the organization is high.
“I believe we are a playoff team,” Leipold said after Fenton’s firing. “We have to get everybody believing that and moving in the same direction.”
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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.