Bill Guerin accomplished quite a bit during his 18 seasons in the NHL. He won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils (1995) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009), but he could be considered one of those players on the bubble for the Hall of Fame.
The case for Guerin
The first-round pick (No. 5 overall) by the Devils in the 1989 draft played for eight different teams during his career, including New Jersey, the Edmonton Oilers, the Boston Bruins, the Dallas Stars, the St. Louis Blues, the San Jose Sharks, the New York Islanders and the Penguins. He posted 429 goals and 427 assists for 856 points in 1,263 games. Guerin recorded a career high with 41 goals during the 2001-02 season with his hometown Bruins. He registered a career-high 69 points for the Stars in 2003-04. The talented right winger reached the 30-goal plateau three times. Even when his teams couldn’t finish the job, Guerin always did his. Case in point: During the 2001-02 season, the Bruins finished first in the Northeast Division and could have done some serious damage in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unfortunately for Boston, the Montreal Canadiens won the quarterfinal series 4-2. Guerin had four goals and two assists for six points in those six games. Guerin participated in seven major international events for Team USA, including the Winter Olympic Games in 1998, 2002 and 2006. He won silver in 2002. He also won a gold medal at the 1996 World Cup.
The case against Guerin
A perfect example against Guerin is a player like Peter Forsberg, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. Due to a series of injuries, Forsberg’s career was prematurely cut short. He was considered one of the most tireless workers of his generation but lasted only 708 games. During that time, he still amassed 249 goals and 885 points and won a pair of Stanley Cup titles with the Colorado Avalanche. He won a pair of Olympic gold medals for Team Sweden. He also won the Calder, Hart and Ross trophies during his career. It took Guerin 555 more games to reach similar point totals, and Guerin never won any individual awards. Induction into the Hall of Fame is about more than just point totals and longevity. For example: Scott Niedermayer, who was inducted in 2013, played the same amount of games (1,263) during the same amount of seasons (18) and recorded 740 points as a defenseman. Besides playing a different position than Guerin, Niedermayer was a perennial All-Star, and he won the Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy. Oh, and he won the Stanley Cup four times. Another intangible for being a Hall of Famer is how a player consistently reaches his team’s accomplishments on the biggest stages. This is an area where Guerin falls a bit short, despite a pair of Stanley Cups. Longevity can help certain players, but it’s what they do during that time that can distinguish them from others. As impressive as playing more than 1,000 games has become, of the 300 NHL players who have reached that plateau, only 76 of them earned enshrinement.
Guerin is already in the USA Hockey Hall of Fame, and deservedly so, but it’s unlikely he’ll make his way to Toronto.
ESPN panel: Was not voted into Hall.