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Minnesota Wild hire Bill Guerin as new general manager

AP

The Minnesota Wild have hired Bill Guerin, who won two Stanley Cups as a player and two more titles in the front office with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as their new general manager.

Guerin was announced Wednesday as the fourth GM in the team’s 19-year history, three weeks after predecessor Paul Fenton was fired by owner Craig Leipold. Guerin spent the last five seasons as assistant general manager of the Penguins, who won consecutive Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. He also worked three years in player development prior to that for the club he skated for in the final two of his 18 seasons in the league as player. He was on Pittsburgh’s title-winning team in 2009.

The 48-year-old Guerin, who signed a multi-year contract that the Wild did not disclose terms for, will supervise the hockey operations department including all matters relating to player personnel, coaching staff, scouting department and minor league operations.

As he attempted on July 30 to explain his decision to dismiss Fenton after just 15 months on the job, Leipold praised the former Nashville Predators assistant general manager as a “tremendous” scout who lacked the necessary acumen in other areas.

“It was the other portion of being a general manager, the organizational part, the strategic part, the management of people, the hiring and motivating of the departments,” Leipold said. “When I talk about not being a good fit, that’s what I’m referring to.”

Leipold, clearly stung by his whiff on a longtime lieutenant, initially said the Wild would be wise to hire a replacement for Fenton with prior experience as an NHL general manager, and former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall was one of the reported candidates. In the end, though, Guerin rose to the top after the search conducted by Leipold, president Matt Majka and executive adviser Mike Modano. He’ll be the third GM in three years for the Wild, who played their first eight seasons under the direction of Doug Risebrough and then Chuck Fletcher for nine years.

Guerin had 429 goals and 427 assists in 1,263 career games with eight different teams. He also won a Stanley Cup in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him fifth overall in 1989. Guerin, who is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, played in four All-Star Games and in three Olympics.

Guerin, who will be introduced at a news conference at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, immediately got to work. About two hours after the Wild confirmed his hiring, they announced that center Joel Eriksson Ek signed a two-year, $2.975 million contract. He was a restricted free agent. Eriksson Ek, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2015, had seven goals and seven assists in 58 games last season.