Like many Americans during the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, a 9-year-old Bill Guerin watched the Miracle on Ice. He watched the United States upset the heavily vaunted Russians and go on to win the gold medal.
With a boyish gaze, Guerin imagined himself on the ice surface with USA across his chest in that glorious moment. It became his dream to represent his country as a hockey player.
|Bill Guerin in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final|
Guerin lived his dream when he suited up for Team USA in three Olympic Games (1998, 2002, 2006), two World Cups (1996, 2004) and in World Junior competition. He won a sliver medal at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Utah and gold in the 1996 World Cup.
“It was always a dream ever since I knew what USA Hockey was back in 1980 when the Miracle on Ice happened,” Guerin said. “I was fortunate enough to live out a dream. It’s always been an honor for me to represent my country in the game that I love so much.”
The United States was equally honored to have a player of Guerin’s character and caliber play on its behalf. They showed their gratitude by electing Guerin into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame Thursday, along with Cindy Curley, Peter Karmanos, Jr., Ron Mason and Doug Weight.
“It’s a pleasure to be inducted in the same year as a groundbreaking crew, people that have given so much to hockey in the U.S.,” Guerin said. “This is a humbling experience for me. It was very emotional. I am very grateful for this honor.”
During Guerin’s 18-year NHL career that stretched through New Jersey, Edmonton, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, NY Islanders and Pittsburgh, he won two Stanley Cups (Pittsburgh, 2009; New Jersey, 1995) and places seventh all-time among U.S.-born players in career goals (429), eighth in power-play goals (130), fourth in game-wining goals (77) and 13th in points (856).
But what Guerin, who has served as the Penguins development coach over the past two seasons, will remember most isn’t the accomplishments. Rather it’s the friendships he’s built along the way.
“The best thing about playing hockey is the people,” Guerin said. “I played on eight teams and came in contact with some incredible people that have become life-long friends. The game’s given me everything and owes me nothing. I owe the game everything. From the experiences of winning Stanley Cups, winning World Cups, participating in the Olympics, bringing my family to different places because of hockey. Hockey has given me everything in my life.
“So many people in the game have given me more than I can ever give. I’m eternally grateful to be in this world. Hockey is a small world. There are a lot of special people in it that have helped me and supported me along the way.”
Guerin said his biggest career highlights were winning the two Stanley Cups and silver medal in the 2002 Games in the United States.
“The Olympic Games are special and unique,” he said. “We got to eat in the cafeteria and eat next to the Slovakian ski team or the Polish ski jumpers. It was very humbling and down to earth. To have the experience on your home soil in Salt Lake and grabbing a silver medal is something I cherish. It was a tough loss to Canada, but looking back I can look on my mantle and see a silver medal. I’m very, very proud of that.”
And USA Hockey is proud to add Guerin to its Hall of Fame.
“I thank the people of USA Hockey for giving me that opportunity,” he said. “Representing my country was always an enormous honor. The fact that I got to share it with my family and fantastic teammates, they’re memories that I’ll cherish and never forget. I’m very grateful for this honor.”
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