Photo Credit: NHL.com

Fits the Bill?

A number of names have popped up in the early stages of the Oilers search for their next General Manager. One of the names I find intriguing for a couple of different reasons is former Oiler Bill Guerin. There are a lot of questions one can ask when it comes to the former power forward. Is he ready to take over a franchise? Is he qualified? How would Oilers fan react to his hiring? Would he even want the job?


I mentioned this on the Nielson Show on Friday morning; Guerin is getting my full support based solely on this video below.

So from now on when you order a salami and cheese sandwich with pickles on the side and a couple of small scoops of peanut butter make sure you refer to it as a Billy Guerin Special.

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I can see it now, the Bobby Nicks burger replaced by the Billy Guerin Special.


Guerin has been steadily working his way up through the Penguins front office since he started as their development coach in 2011. He spent three full seasons in the development role while obviously getting a feel for other aspects of the organization.

“Billy has only been retired as a player for one year, so he brings a new and very contemporary perspective to the position. He is going to be a big asset to our young prospects throughout the organization, and to our staff,” said former General Manager Ray Shero at the time of the hiring.

During his time in player development, Guerin would have been keeping tabs on and working with the likes of Olli Maatta, Matt Murray and Jake Guentzel.

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The Penguins named Jim Rutherford General Manager in early June and that’s when Guerin was bumped up the ladder. With Jason Botterill being the Associate G.M. Guerin, along with Tom Fitzgerald, was given the role of assistant general manager.

Fitzgerald followed Ray Shero to New Jersey while Guerin continued to work his way up the totem pole in Pittsburgh. After spending three years as assistant G.M. the Penguins added the title of general manager of the Pens AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He had this to say when he took on the additional responsibility.

“The things that I’ve learned from [Rutherford] is that you have to patient with players, you have to communicate well with your coaches, you have to be loyal and you have to be fair. I’ve learned a lot from Ray [Shero], too.”

Guerin was also an assistant for the Americans at the 2017 World Hockey Championships.

I think it’s fair to say that Guerin would be among the most qualified candidates who don’t already have NHL general manager experience. He has been part of building two Stanley Cup winners in Pittsburgh.

Once source I chatted with described Guerin as well respected in the hockey world and suggested that he would be a strong hire for the Oilers.

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How would Oilers fans react to another former Oiler being brought back to the organization?

It basically would go one of two ways. If he doesn’t work out the organization would be blamed for bringing another former player back into the fold. If it does work people will be quick to point that he was properly developed within the Penguins front office and the hire was clearly the right way to go. You’ll have to pick a side!

I did quickly throw the question out on twitter and these were a few of the responses.

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And by far my favourite answer to the question.

And then there was this.


I’m not so sure he would jump at the opportunity. For years it looked like Jason Botterill was being groomed by the Penguins to eventually take over but he left for Buffalo. Next in line would have to be Guerin. If Guerin is the succession plan in Pittsburgh why would he leave one of the best organizations in the league to come to the Oilers? Rutherford will be 70-years old in February, how much longer can he have?

Guerin is an east coast guy who’s on his way to running an east coach team. While I think he should definitely be on the list of people Nicholson would like to talk too I just don’t see him as the next GM of the Oilers.

With that being said, as I mentioned above, he does have my full support because I’ll never turn down a Billy Guerin Special.


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Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Serious Gord


    No more alumni or FOK or FOG until this org wins a cup. How about that?

    The next GM + POHO – which may be two hires – not one – should be:

    1. Someone with zero connections with the org.

    2. Have complete say over all positions in hockey ops. Katz should be warned that that could mean the end of the line for most of the old boys.

    Brian Burke on primetime Thursday recommended also getting rid of old boys who were in non-hockey ops as they still meddle informally in hockey decisions. He specifically cited Kevin Lowe. I agree 100% with that assessment. He also cited the example of the struggles Hextall had in philly with the old boys and the owner meddling in what he was trying to do. Not surprising I guess that both orgs have been laughing stocks these past ten years…

  • Rick Stroppel


    What difference does it make who the GM is, if all the people looking over his shoulder and directly meddling in his decisions (eg Koskinen) are the same?
    One huge problem is Bob Nicholson. He seems like a very smart and nice man but he is TOO NICE. He is like the elf “Buddy” in the movie “Elf” (“I like smiling…smiling is my favourite”). What is needed is a very aggressive and strong OUTSIDER who has the authority to say this to a whole bunch of people: “You were a great hockey player thirty years ago but you suck at what you are doing right now…so you’re fired…I mean really fired…I mean YOU NEED TO GO AWAY”.

    I went back to the transcript of Nicholson’s presser and I found something interesting. He used the word “playoffs” 4 or 5 times. He used the words “championships” or “Stanley Cup” zero times. I get it, you have to make the playoffs to win the championships. But if you listen closely, they have moved the goalposts. The OEG has given up on recreating the 1980’s Oilers. They want to recreate the 1990’s Oilers: a team the makes the playoffs 40% of the time, upsets a better team once in awhile in the playoffs, and maybe makes one fluke run to the SC finals. Is that good enough for Oilers fans? Is that good enough for McDavid and his agent Bobby Orr? I am not saying McDavid is asking for a trade now or in the near future…but at a certain point doubt creeps in.

    Consider the all-in bet the Oilers organization (not just Chiarelli, they told us that) just made on Koskinen. Right now his sv. pct. is .910, 25th amoung NHL goalies, GAA is 2.79, 28th in the league. Those figures are virtually identical (one more game played) to when he was signed. He MIGHT be good enough to get a team into the playoffs, ZERO chance you can win the SC (or get to the final) with a goalie like this. He is signed for three years. His last year will be the seventh year of McDavid’s NHL career.

    The Oilers organization is like the Trump Whitehouse: An echo chamber full of arrogant fools who are constantly dislocating their shoulders from patting themselves on the back. Debating the next GM hire is interesting. But unless the profound organizational rot and dysfunction are addressed, it won’t make any difference.

  • RJ

    Here’s an out of the box hire: Ralph Krueger. He’s familiar with the city, he’s been a manager (not in hockey), and there’s no way he’d be swayed by KLowe and MacT.

    As his hiring bonus they could let him fire MacT and LLowe through Skype.

  • KootenayDan

    The next GM hiring cannot be influenced by what the fans want. There is so much disdain for the OBC it has negatively skewed the process. Mark Hunters brother played for the Oilers better not hire him either lol. If Bill Guerin is qualified then so be it. Penguins are not exactly blowing it out of the water this year either. What I read and hear about McCrimmon and Hunter would say they are two excellent candidates.

  • The future never comes

    Yeah, um with the little to no assets and little to no cap room, I think we need an experienced GM with great connections league wide. Not someone learning on the job. Pass.

    • That’s what we said when we hired Chiapete. I’ll pass on guys like Lombardi and Holland, they’ve shown they can’t catch up on the times either. Imo it should be McCrimmon/Hunter(experience in juniors and NHL) as GM and an experienced guy as POHO.

    • OldOilFan

      Agreed, this is not the time/team/city/job for a rookie GM.

      I don’t think the candidate has to be a former player, either. Just someone with a keen mind who is already up to speed on how “general-managing” works in the NHL.

      Much depends on whether or not the task is for a “full rebuild” (supply your own definition for that, I guess).

    • ed from edmonton

      Experienced GMs are in short supply. Hextall, Nonis, Lomdardi, Feaster (wouldn’t that be a shocker). I probably missed a couple but its a pretty short list.

  • Total Points

    The key is to get rid of the old boys club first. After that the Oilers will be able to hire a qualified GM. If the OBC stay around it will not matter who they hire.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I did find it strange when Nicholson said Chiarelli had full reign over hockey operations, yet when asked about the Koskinen signing, he said they made the decision as a group??

    Well what is it? A group or one guy?
    Seemed like they are pinning all the problems on Chiarelli, when clearly there was more than one voice in the room dictating what was going on. Basically admitted in front of the hockey world that “they” (OBC) do have direct ties to personnel decisions. Smells fishy.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      It’s not fishy, you aren’t paying attention. It’s called a PR dilemma: 1) say it was Pete’s deal which throws the player, the contract, AND the upper mgt under the bus (captain obvious reporter would ask: “why did PC have full reign one day and get fired the next and was the Koskinen contract the last straw”? ); 2) say it was a group decision so it looks like Pete was on his way out and needed approval (Bob basically says: “we were aware of the situation and attended to it so more mistakes didn’t happen and we thought signing Mikko was a solid choice for the Oilers”). Which would you say if you were in charge?

  • Finnaggled

    is there any quantifiable reason you think guerin would do a good job, other than, he’s worked with the penguins for a long time….
    that is experience, sure, but not necessarily successful experience. He also has less.experience, and quantifiable success, than the other 2 names being thrown around in hunter and mcrimmon. Care to back up your argument at all?
    Also, I could be wrong but i highly doubt they give the team to the least experienced of all the candidates.

    • Dustin Nielson

      McCrimmon has three years of NHL managerial experience. I’m not sure how he is more experienced at the NHL or more successful than Guerin for that matter. He may be a better candidate but I’m not sure what you are talking about above. I don’t know how much of an impact 20 years with the Wheatkings matters to the Oilers.

    • Randaman

      What do you suggest? Possibly a graph or flow chart to show positives and negatives and quantify the results so you get the best candidate? I don’t see Guerin coming west. Strong player for the Oilers. Let’s just remember him as that and not taint another name because of the negative OBC pressure.

  • Oiler Al

    Bettman endorses Katz and his muppet Burger Bob,during his nation address at the all star game.Thinks they will figure it out.[they havnt for 10 years]

    I would not have the confidence of a new GM , if he was to accept the job with the current structure! A smart guy would not want to come to the position, with all the clowns and Winos hanging around.

    At the very very least ,MacT, Green, and Howson must be purged.Wayne and Kevin are wall hangings only. Katz will never let that go.

    PS: by yhe way this is all on Katz…he also hired the snakeoil salesman, who turned to hamburger.

      • Serious Gord

        Bettman is excellent- probably the best prez in league history. For Katz it’s the product on the ice and the in building amenities and off-ice entertainment that he should be evaluated on and on all three areas he is among the worst in the league.

  • Mc.Rib

    TheGreatWW over at FN is now sending trolls to our site simply to cause trouble and be annoying, making us feel already worse than we we should. He is also getting email addresses somehow, (he is admitting this) and sending messages, like the one I recently received from him. The mods really need to look into this!!

    • Kool-Aid Man

      WW is sending trolls? What is he the FN troll master? If trolls are coming here in scores, it’s not because of him. Trolls need dopamine to feel good about their poor, pathetic lives.

      Perhaps WW encourages them but, even FN writer (skylardog) enjoys a good trolling.