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Guerin Hangs Up His Skates

Former Devil Bill Guerin officially announced his retirement yesterday, bringing to an end a great career for the former Cup winner.

Bill Guerin celebrates his second Stanley Cup championship, with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. The right-winger won his first championship with the Devils in 1995. Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/AP Photo

While he may be remembered for his more recent achievements, including winning a Stanley Cup championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Guerin was once an integral part of the New Jersey Devils. He recorded 11 points during the Devils run to their first championship in 1995, and helped spark the team to the trophy.

Guerin thanked the Devils and Lou Lamoriello for launching his career.

“The Devils gave me my start,” Guerin said to the media yesterday. “Lou Lamoriello had a lot of faith in me. He picked me in the draft and gave me my start in this league. To him, I’m forever grateful for that.”

Guerin’s former teammates remembered him as a positive influence in the locker room.

“He was a great character player,” said Devils coach John MacLean, who was teammates with Guerin on the Devils for five and a half seasons. “I enjoyed playing with him. He was a (teammate) when we won in 1995. He had a tremendous career. My hat is off to him. I know he’s a good family man, too. Hopefully, he enjoys the second part of whatever career he chooses.”

Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur told a story detailing Guerin’s leadership and ability to stick up for teammates.

“Valeri Zelepukin had a bad eye. He got (hit with) a puck in practice and was just coming back,” Brodeur recalled to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I think it was my second year in the league. We were taking shots and (Zelepukin’s) first shot, he hits me in the shoulder. The second shot hits me in the head. The third shot goes over my head. So, I got mad and I grab the puck and I shoot it at him. Billy just took so much offense. He came in and slashed me and the whole thing. (laughing). That’s the type of guy he was. I didn’t realize that Zele couldn’t really see when he was shooting, so Billy went to his defense right away.”

Guerin retired seventh all-time among American-born hockey players with 429 goals. In his 300 games as a Devil, Guerin recorded 108 goals and 106 assists. In 54 playoff games with New Jersey, the right-winger recorded 11 goals and 11 assists.

I personally don’t remember watching much of Bill Guerin as a younger fan. I was just starting to pay attention to hockey, and while Guerin was great, he didn’t spend much time in New Jersey. Being traded in 1997-98, I never saw him much in a Devils uniform. But I saw the skill he brought to other teams, and he was an awesome competitor. He truly revolutionized the “power forward” position in hockey.

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