As much fun as it may be, the NHL trade deadline rarely produces a positive effect for teams gunning for the Stanley Cup. Sure, every once in a while you get a Butch Goring or Alexander Mogilny, but wantonly grabbing Mike Sillinger or Keith Tkachuk isn’t going to get your name on the Cup when your team has other flaws.
Then there’s Bill Guerin. Other than hiring coach Dan Bylsma, I can’t think of a better move made by Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero than to bring in the affable veteran to a team that wasn’t all it could be at the time.
This crystallized for me the other night when Guerin dropped the gloves with Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, a tough prairie boy if there ever was one. Getzlaf is bigger and much younger than Guerin (15 years to be precise), but ol’ Billy wrestled the aggressive pup to a draw, even scoring the takedown when the combatants fell to the ice.
As they have done consistently this season, the Penguins won that game, despite missing a boatload of regulars to injury. Guerin, who recently turned 39, has 12 points through 21 games this season, but it’s the little things he does that make him even more valuable to a team.
The Getzlaf fight was certainly one of them. I know there are people out there who think fighting is pointless, but it obviously motivates the players and they’re the ones on the ice scoring the goals and stopping the pucks, not you. So there.
But back to Guerin. When he was first acquired by the Pens last season, it was reported the veteran winger immediately made his presence known by good-naturedly cracking wise on his new mates, instantly lightening the mood in what had been an uneasy dressing room. His willingness to be vocal also meant young players such as Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury did not have to be as vocal and could simply go out and be fantastic at hockey.
The results speak for themselves. Guerin, finally giving Crosby a top-notch winger to play with (along with Chris Kunitz, acquired a few days before Guerin), tallied 12 points in 17 games after arriving in Pittsburgh, a span in which the Penguins earned points in 15 of those contests.
In the run to the Stanley Cup, it was much the same. Guerin had 15 points in 24 playoff games and was able to draw upon his vast post-season experience – more than 100 games played before the 2009 tourney and a ring with New Jersey in 1994-95 – to show the way to those who hadn’t been there before.
Now, obviously there were other heroes on the Penguins last year – Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Max Talbot – but it’s worth noting how one grizzled vet showed just how much he had left in the tank, and continues to do so.
One thought on Nikita Filatov heading back to Moscow.
If Columbus is still playing well by the trade deadline, how about this deal: Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle for Filatov straight-up.
Columbus gets the power play quarterback they’ve always desperately needed, while the Leafs get another piece of the offensive puzzle that is right now quite incomplete.
Filatov joins the Buds at the beginning of the 2010-11 campaign; Kaberle’s under contract for another season, too, so the Jackets don’t have to worry about losing him after 20 games of service.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Monday and Wednesday, his column – The Straight Edge – every Friday, and his prospect feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.