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."