Guerin out in Pittsburgh
Billy Guerin’s career with the Pittsburgh Penguins is over. Penguins GM Ray Shero informed an extremely disappointed Bill Guerin today that the team will not be making an offer and have decided to go in another direction.
After much back and fourth, the decision was made after an organization meeting on Wednesday. The organization was torn on bringing Guerin back with the main concern of where he would fit into the lineup if he was unable to play on one of the top-2 lines.
Shero remained in touch with Guerin and agent Bob Murray this week but the two sides never engaged in negotiations.
A source involved in the process tells me the feeling was that GM Ray Shero was on board with bringing Guerin back but that wasn’t the consensus from many other high ranking officials and evaluators, most notably the coaching staff.
Money was not a factor in the Penguins deciding not to negotiate with Guerin. Guerin was willing to take a substantial paycut from his $2 million a year salary if it meant a return to Pittsburgh. Not to make Guerin an offer was primarily an organization decision.
Guerin played a vital role in the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup run and was the Penguins most productive winger last season, scoring 21 goals. His play began to diminish during the second half of the season but he still found ways to produce, tallying 4 goals and 5 assists in 11 playoff games.
Those close to Guerin tell me the Penguins GM thanked the veteran winger at length for what he’s done for the organization. Despite being extremely disappointed, there appears to be no hard feelings towards the Penguins from Guerin’s end.
With Pittsburgh out of the picture and having no firm offers on the table, some may assume that retirement could become a possibility. That scenario is very unlikely as the 39 year old winger intends to keep playing and will eventually find some work.
From Earlier 8:08 a.m.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Bill Guerin’s return to Pittsburgh was still being categorized as 50-50 from team contacts.
Contract talks between the two sides have not heated up to the extent where the two sides are engaged in negotiations but dialogue between Pens GM Ray Shero and agent Bob Murray has picked up since Tuesday in some sense.
The common phrase from contacts on both sides yesterday was “still talking” when asked about any decision being made.
One side appears optimistic that a deal will get done.
That optimism is coming from Guerin’s camp not the Penguins.
Those in Guerin’s camp tell me they have been under the assumption that Pittsburgh wants “Billy back” and after the two sides were far apart in money before free agency started, the agreement from both sides was then to hold off negotiations until the Penguins were done finalizing their roster and the two sides would see how much cap space would be available.
Now they are at that point after Guerin has yet to receive a firm offer from another NHL team. One contact close to Guerin told me that Pens GM Ray Shero has been very truthful and gracious throughout the process as there’s been no hard feelings thus far.
With schools opening this week, Shero is not going to let this drag out beyond next week I’m told. The sense though in the organization is that Pittsburgh will decide to move on.
Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review also reports that Guerin has yet to put his Sewickley home on the market, and his kids are enrolled for classes at Sewickley Academy.
Guerin still has a summer home in New York and in the Massachusetts area. Guerin prefers to stay on the East coast, if things don’t work out with the Penguins.
Boston and Philadelphia are at the top of Guerin’s wishlist after Pittsburgh. Both teams have kicked the tires on him but they have bigger cap issues than Pittsburgh and neither team has made an offer to this point. Nor is one expected anytime soon.
Pittsburgh has about $1.3 million to spend on two more roster spots as the team wants to open the season with $750,000 – $1 million in cap space.
Guerin was intially seeking a salary close to the $2 million a year he made in 2009-2010 but that is no longer the case.