In what is quite possibly the most Edmonton story ever, forever Edmonton Oilers forward Bill Guerin found out about his trade to the Boston Bruins by some random dude at West Edmonton Mall.
Drafted by the New Jersey Devils 5th overall in 1989, Guerin joined the Oilers in a 1998 deal alongside Veleri Zelepukin in exchange for Jason Arnott and Brian Muir.
Guerin spent parts of four seasons in Edmonton scoring 79 goals and 161 points in 211 games before ultimately being dealt to his hometown Boston Bruins.
The deal, consummated on Nov. 15, 2000, saw Guerin shipped to the B’s for a 2001 first-round pick (Ales Hemsky), 2001 second-round pick (Doug Lynch) and Anson Carter.
The day of the deal, Guerin told the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, he was at West Edmonton Mall with his family watching his daughter skate.
“I’m standing there watching my daughter Kayla ice skate, and there’s this guy and he’s just kinda looking at me,” said Guerin. “He goes ‘I didn’t think you’d be here!’ and I’m like ‘well what are you talking about?… I’m just watching my daughter skate.’
“He’s like ‘I was listening to the radio! I just heard you got traded!’ so I said ‘do you mind telling me where?’ he’s like ‘yeah, Boston!’ and I was like ‘uggghhh oh my god.'”
Guerin went on to say the trade was one he wasn’t excited about, mainly due to returning to Boston where his friends were, as well as the expectations that would follow.
“I was terrified,” said Guerin. “You know how it is when some guys go home.
“I had left my cellphone in the car, because at the time you didn’t always have it on you. I went to the payphone and used my calling card to call my agent Bob Murray. He goes ‘Billy, you got traded… yes, to the Bruins.”
Now the general manager of the Minnesota Wild, Guerin had a long and successful career in the NHL as a player. Over his 1263 NHL games, Guerin scored 429 goals and 1660 points.
His time in Boston, however, was short. He left the team in free agency in 2002 opting to sign with the Dallas Stars. Guerin also had stints with the St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, and New York Islanders before retiring with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010.
In a 2017 OilersNation
series ranking the top-100 Edmonton Oilers of all-time, Guerin came in at number 31
. Here’s some of what Robin Brownlee wrote in that piece:
I can say without any doubt Bill Guerin absolutely loved playing for the Edmonton Oilers, and he felt that way at a time when the glory days of five Stanley Cups were little more than a faded memory. Teammates and fans, in return, felt the same way about Guerin, a speedy power forward from Massachusetts who arrived in Edmonton via the New Jersey Devils in the 1998 trade that sent Jason Arnott the other way.
On the ice, Guerin was a lethal blend of speed, toughness and talent who could play the game any way you wanted to. Off the ice, he was a popular teammate with the gift of the gab, a cutting sense of humor and a penchant for pranks. It sucked, then, when Guerin was traded to Boston just 211 games after arriving – a transaction he found out about not from Oiler GM Kevin Lowe, but from a fan at his daughter’s figure skating practice on Nov. 15, 2000. In between, Guerin was a helluva player for the Oilers.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]