In Worcester, Massachusetts, November 9, 1970, an Irish-American father named Bill and Nicaraguan mother named Ligia had a boy named Bill Guerin. The boy grew up in western Massachusetts, and his mother thought he should play hockey to burn off energy. Guerin later said, “My mother and I learned hockey together. She didn’t know anything about the game, but wanted me to skate to have something to do in the winter. And now she’s a huge fan.” His father built him a rink in the backyard, bought him a net, and taught him to “stay humble.” As the boy grew into a man, he skated with the Springfield Olympics (of the New England Junior Hockey League) during the late 1980s, and, after he was drafted fifth overall by the New Jersey Devils, played for the Boston College Eagles from 1989 to 1991.
In 1991, Bill Guerin began his 18-year career as an NHL hockey player. He may have been the first Latino in the NHL, and his father considered him the “first player of Latin American heritage to make an impact in the NHL.” During his career, he played for the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, New York Islanders, and Pittsburgh Penguins. Guerin earned his first Stanley Cup championship in 1995, when the Devils swept the Detroit Red Wings. In 1998, when Hurricane Mitch devastated Nicaragua, Guerin “leveraged his celebrity and helped the Red Cross raise a quarter-million dollars in Edmonton for the Hurricane Mitch relief efforts.” A highlight of Guerin’s NHL career was when he was able to fulfill a dream by playing for the Bruins from 2000 to 2002. He told NHL Live! “I had so much fun playing with the ‘B’ on my chest.” He earned a career-high of 41 goals and 63 points in 64 games during the 2001-02 season there. After much moving around, in March 2009 he was traded to the Penguins, and that June he again hoisted the Cup. He retired in 2010 after one additional season with the Penguins. Overall, he had played 1,263 games (429G, 427A, 856P).
Internationally, Guerin represented the U.S. in two IIHF World Junior Championships (1989, 1990), two World Cups of Hockey (1996, 2004), and three Olympic Winter Games (1998, 2002, 2006). The U.S. won gold at the 1996 World Cup and silver at the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City, Utah. Guerin scored four goals in six games for that silver medal. When he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013, he said, “Ever since 1980, the Miracle on Ice, I had to play for U.S. I had to represent my country. I wanted to put on that U.S.A. jersey.” He considered it the highest honor and loved representing his country every time.
After his playing career, Guerin joined the Penguins as a player development coach and then, as of 2014, as the assistant general manager. The team won back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017, so he was made general manager of the AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Happy birthday, Bill Guerin!