Bill Guerin, GM Minnesota Wild, in charge of US hockey team, notes ‘question’ about Olympic attendance

Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin was named general manager of the 2022 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team Tuesday, over concerns that NHL players might not make it to the Beijing Olympics.

Guerin acknowledged the challenges that could keep NHL players from appearing for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the right they have been pushing for in 2020 collective bargaining negotiations with the owners.

“It’s been a crazy year. There are still a lot of questions. But our focus right now is to put together the best team we can and compete for the gold medal,” Guerin said. “And given the deep pool of players we have in the United States, we think that’s likely.”

Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, said the organization has received an updated book from the Beijing Olympic Committee detailing the latest COVID-19 protocols and isolation rules if a athletes who tested positive for participating in the Winter Olympics. Kelleher said discussions are ongoing with the NHL and NHLPA, as well as with the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

“We certainly hope that all the systems will ‘go’ when they get to Beijing, but there’s a lot of work to be done, a lot of moving parts,” Kelleher said.

New York Ranger GM Chris Drury was appointed assistant general manager. He and Guerin were teammates on the 2002 and 2006 U.S. Men’s Olympic team. John Vanbiesbrouck, assistant executive director of hockey operations at USA Hockey, will be working with them as players. Pittsburgh Penguins Coach Mike Sullivan will be behind the bench in Beijing – if the NHL participates.

The NHLPA is concerned about a number of coronavirus-related issues with the Olympics. Any competitor with a confirmed positive test result must submit two negative tests 24 hours apart or the quarantine period may be as long as three to five weeks. Where that will take place, and whether a player can leave China instead of quarantine there, are among the issues the NHLPA is awaiting clarification on.

NHL players contracted with COVID-19 during the Olympics will not be paid for matches and training sessions they miss after the tournament’s Olympic break. The International Ice Hockey Federation has a $5 million fund to help financially impacted players.

Vegas Golden Knights Goalie Robin Lehner is the only player to have publicly withdrawn from the Olympics, saying he will not be joining Team Sweden due to medical and mental health concerns.

Guerin said there’s a chance the US players could do the same, but Drury noted that “so far, there hasn’t been much discussion about” the US players opting out.

“Our job is to make them feel comfortable going,” says Guerin. “The last thing we want to do is put anyone in harm’s way.”

Plan B of USA Hockey will be a mix of USA Hockey League players, NCAA players and US-born players competing in European tournaments .

“It’s been a crazy year. There are a lot of questions that remain. But our focus right now is to put together the best team we can and compete for a gold medal.”

New US Olympic men’s hockey general manager Bill Guerin

Guerin said 55 NHL players are being considered for spots on Team America’s roster. Vegas Golden Knights star Jack Eichel could be one of them.

Eichel underwent artificial disc replacement surgery last month. His recovery time could allow him to play in the Olympics, where he will be the team’s No 2 center behind. Auston Matthews.

“I have been in contact with Jack’s agent, but the details of those conversations I have to keep between him and me,” said Guerin, who has not ruled out Eichel is playing for Team America in Beijing. .

Guerin’s road to Team USA was fraught with scandals. He was originally brought in by Stan Bowman, who stepped down as general manager hours after he “stepped aside” as GM and president of hockey operations. Chicago Blackhawks at the end of October. The decision follows an investigation into how the Blackhawks handled sexual assault allegations against former video coach Brad Aldrich during its 2010 Stanley Cup.

“There were definitely some unfortunate situations along the way,” Guerin said. “Stan and I still keep in touch. Stan is friends. He did a great job and I’m proud to be his employee. Unfortunately, things turned out the way they did, and we are here today.

“We have a job to do. We have to be consistent with that. We have to focus on hockey right now.”

Guerin was also embroiled in a scandal, dating back to his days as an assistant general manager at Penguins. Former AHL assistant coach Jarrod Skalde filed a lawsuit against the Penguins in November 2020 alleging former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach John “Clark” Donatelli sexually assaulted his wife Erin Skalde in 2016. 2018. Skalde further alleged that Guerin, who oversees the AHL branch, told him to keep quiet about the incident when informed about it.

In November 2021, a law firm representing Erin Skalde announced plans to file a civil lawsuit against several individuals involved in the case, including Guerin. But Jarrod and Erin Skalde reached a settlement with Penguins and announced that the legal matter “has reached a conclusion satisfactory to all parties involved.”

That situation led to a notable gap between Bowman’s resignation and Guerin’s official appointment as Team USA general manager. SafeSport, a nonprofit committed to ending abuse in sport, has yet to complete an investigation into Guerin’s actions.

“There have been some ups and downs, but today was a very happy day. It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Guerin said.


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