The Minnesota Wild passed on Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin to hire Paul Fenton as their general manager last year. Fenton lasted one season. On Wednesday, the team corrected the error, and hired Guerin to succeed him.
“Bill has been a winner throughout his hockey career and I am extremely pleased to be able to add his experience to our organization and The State of Hockey,” Wild owner Craig Leipold said in a statement.
Guerin, 48, becomes the fourth general manager in Wild franchise history and the second plucked from the Penguins organization after Chuck Fletcher.
Fletcher, who like Guerin worked under Ray Shero, is now the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Hired in 2011 as a developmental coach with the Penguins, Guerin was promoted to assistant general manager in 2014 by Jim Rutherford, and served in that role for five years. He added the role of general manager of their AHL franchise to his plate in 2017.
That was enough experience for Leipold and the Wild, despite speculation that they might opt for a candidate with previous NHL general managing experience. Fenton was a career assistant with the Nashville Predators when the Wild hired him, and his inexperience was called out by the owner when his firing was announced.
“I knew him in a different way. He was assistant general manager. He was scouting. That was his role. He was tremendous at that,” Leipold said of Fenton. “But it was the other portion of being a general manager: the organizational, the strategic, the management of people, the hiring and motivating of the departments. When I’m talking about not being a fit, that’s what I’m talking about.”
Guerin would seem like a better fit. He’s a former player, who appeared in 1,263 games over 18 seasons and won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils and the Penguins. He’s known for an outward personality and natural charisma that appeared to be lacking in the previous general manager. Guerin also earned the reputation for recognizing and developing young talents.
The Wild went 37-36-9 last season, missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years. This will be the third general manager in Minnesota for coach Bruce Boudreau, who is under contract through the 2019-20 season.