Wild Look For Stability In Hiring Bill Guerin As Team's Next GM
The Wild's hiring of Bill Guerin as the fourth GM in franchise history installs a "charismatic, determined and experienced leader at the helm" of the franchise, according to Sarah McLellan of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The team "created a gaping hole at the top of its organizational depth chart when it dismissed" former GM Paul Fenton on July 30. Guerin spent the past five seasons as Penguins Assistant GM and was GM of their AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, for the past two seasons. Now, there is "little left to do" with the Wild's roster, as training camp is only three weeks away. What is "looming for Guerin is the opportunity to stabilize the Wild after a year-plus of adversity, a transition that could determine expectations for years to come" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/22).
RIGHT FOR THE JOB: THE ATHLETIC's Michael Russo noted Guerin has "long been regarded as a future GM." He "gained a reputation as a strong talent evaluator, a hard worker and a leader that can motivate co-workers." Guerin was "in every trade conversation the past few years and somebody" Penguins Exec VP & GM Jim Rutherford "relied upon for advice and analysis." Wild Owner Craig Leipold "originally wanted to hire somebody with former GM experience," but everything the team heard about Guerin "alleviated concerns and convinced them that Guerin was the right person for the job." Wild Assistant GM Tom Kurvers has "two years left on his contract and is expected to stay on in some capacity" (THEATHLETIC.com, 8/21). NHL Network's Brian Lawton said he was a candidate for the Wild GM position and had an "opportunity to sit down with ownership" and was "really impressed." Lawton: "They did a deep dive. I would suggest the Minnesota Wild learned a lot through this process about their team." He noted it was an "intense process" and it "bodes very well for the future" of the Wild ("NHL Tonight," NHL Network, 8/21).
THE OTHER SIDE: In Pittsburgh, Mike DeFabo notes Guerin's departure "creates a number of vacancies." Rutherford said that he plans to name a new Wilkes-Barre/Scranton GM in "about the next week or two." As far as filling the Assistant GM job with the Penguins, that "could take considerably longer." Rutherford said that he has an "informal list of candidates" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/22). Rutherford said, "I feel unless somebody comes along that I haven’t thought about, I’ll think I’ll leave that assistant GM position open.” He added that the recent addition of former NHLer Matt Cullen to the hockey operations department in a player-development role "will help" (TRIBLIVE.com, 8/21). In Pittsburgh, Dave Molinari notes retirement for Rutherford "isn't something that's turning up on even his long-range radar these days." When the subject of him "possibly grooming an eventual successor was broached, Rutherford was quick to shoot it down." He has "few candidates in mind to inherit his duties at some point in the future" (DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.com, 8/22).