Bill Guerin

Bill Guerin has high expectations when he looks at the pool of players and coaches he'll have to choose from after being named general manager of the United States men's teams that will compete in the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off and 2026 Milano-Cortina Olympics.

"I just don't see why we shouldn't be thinking gold medals," Guerin said Thursday. "I think USA Hockey has developed into a program where that's what we do. We have to put our skates on and go out and play the games, but when you just look at it, pure talent-wise and depth-wise, we're in a really good spot."

The inaugural 4 Nations Face-Off will be a best-on-best tournament with the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden competing from Feb. 12-20. They will play seven games during a nine-day period in yet-to-be-named cities in North America, one in the U.S. and one in Canada. Milano-Cortina will mark the return of NHL players to the Olympics for the first time since Sochi in 2014.

Discussing Bill Guerin being named Team USA GM

Guerin, who played 18 seasons in the NHL and is in his fifth season as GM of the Minnesota Wild, played for the United States when it last won a best-on-best tournament, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and in three Olympics (Nagano, 1998; Salt Lake City, 2002; Torino, 2006). The 53-year-old native of Worcester, Massachusetts, remembers watching the U.S. at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics when he was 9 and hopes to put together a team that can win the country's first Olympic gold medal in men's hockey since then.

"I think our player pool is so deep," Guerin said. "The thing is we've developed such high-end talent and there's such high-end talent out there that we've never seen before. And it's not just three, four guys. There's a ton and they come from all walks of life. We have skilled centers. We have shut-down D. We have abrasive wingers. We have 100-point guys. We have good role players. There's just so much to choose from."

Guerin was to be GM for the 2022 Beijing Olympics after then-Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman stepped down from the role Oct. 26, 2021, following an independent investigation of former Chicago player Kyle Beach's allegations of sexual assault by then-video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010. He did not get to fulfill that role after the NHL decided not to send its players because it was no longer feasible when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of a high number of its regular-season games in 2021-22.

Guerin instantly became a leading candidate to be GM for the 4-Nations Face-Off and 2026 Olympics when USA Hockey started considering its leadership group before the NHL and NHL Players' Association announced their agreements to play those tournaments during 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto last Friday.

"The rumors and some of the work of the NHL being back in the Olympics and with 4 Nations, we had heard about for a while and we had some conversations," said Pat Kellher, executive director of USA Hockey. "So, I think [John Vanbiesbrouck, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey] and I were excited to move forward on this and John certainly goes back a few years with Billy."

Vanbiesbrouck said Guerin is a perfect fit for the job.

"I think we trust Bill, No. 1," Vanbiesbrouck said. "We have deep bench of GMs to pull from, but we were going down the route with Billy the last time. We had great conversations, love his leadership and, overall, he's a winning hockey player, but he's a winning GM, too. So, I think our decision was fairly easy for us."

USA's potential roster for the 4 Nations Face-Off

Guerin plans to lean on the other United States-born NHL GMs for guidance when he helps shape rosters for the two tournaments. He said he spoke with retired Nashville Predators GM David Poile, who held the position for the U.S. at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Thursday morning and speaks regularly with Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell.

The teams in the 4 Nations Face-Off are expected to announce the first six players on their rosters by early summer. Guerin would like to select a coach well before that so he can be involved in the player selection process. He would like to have the same coach for the 4 Nations Face-Off and 2026 Olympics.

"The consistency is extremely important," Guerin said. "I think the relationship between player and coach in short tournaments like this is extremely important."

Guerin said Mike Sullivan of the Pittsburgh Penguins will be among the coaching candidates but isn't guaranteed the job because he had it in 2022.

"Mike is extremely qualified," Guerin said. "He's a Stanley-Cup winning coach. He's a leader. He checks all the bounces. He's a commanding presence, (but) it's got nothing to do with seniority or who's next in line. It's all about who can deliver, and we feel we have a lot of guys that fit that bill, Mike being one of them."

The No. 5 pick by the New Jersey Devils in the 1989 NHL Draft, Guerin had 856 points (429 goals, 427 assists) in 1,263 regular-season games as a forward for the Devils, Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders. He had 74 points (39 goals, 35 assists) in 140 Stanley Cup Playoff games, and won the Stanley Cup twice as a player (Devils in 1995, Penguins in 2009) and an executive (Pittsburgh assistant GM in 2016 and 2017).

Guerin had eight points (five goals, three assists) in 16 games during his three Olympic appearances, including four goals in six games when the United States won silver at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.

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