Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 2 years ago

Bill Guerin

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This week's episode Dave and Gus interview Bill Guerin, an incredible husband, father, friend, former player, Olympian and now the GM of the Minnesota Wild.  Listen to Bill tell of his days growing up playing hockey in Massachusetts. Playing for Boston Colllege and his journey as an Olympian where he represented the United States in the Olympics in 1998, 2002 nand 2006, and participated in two Ice Hockey World Championships. Guerin is the first player of Hispanic descent to play in the NHL. Bill was the #1 draft pick by the New Jersey Devils in 1989. His 18 years in the NHL led to 2 Stanley Cups and then two more in the front office. Four time NHL All-Star and 2001 All-Star game MVP. He had a remarkable career and is continuing his legacy in the NHL by becoming the fourth General Manager of the Minnesota Wild. He is an outstanding human being and has a great family. Bill is married to Kara and they have four children: Kayla Lyn, born on July 6, 1997; Grace Elizabeth, born in 1999; Liam, born on May 26, 2001 and Lexi Rose born on December 2, 2002. Bill loved his time in Pittsburgh and is forever grateful to the fans, The city of Pittsburgh and the Penguins. When he talks to us about his time in our great city, you would think he spent his entire career in the Black and Gold.   See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Welcome everyone to huddle up with gusts. I'm your host, Gusts Furat. I played quarterback in the NFL for fifteen years and have lots of stories to share. I'm joined by my longtime friend and COS Dave Hagar. Dave and I talked to our guests about how sports shape their success in life. We are RADIOCOM original podcast and you can catch us on the new RADIOCOM APP or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. You can also find us under the big top at the sports circus hosted by sal the ring master. Look for us on amp TVCOM. That's a a MP tvcom the next time you stay in hotels across America. I hope you enjoy our show and let us know what you think by going to our website. Hello up with gustscom. Please like and subscribe. Now let's get in the huddle with today's guest. You're at it. Here we go. Welcome everyone in another edition of Huddle up with gusts. I'm your host, Gusts Furrat, fifteen year NFL quarterback, and I'm joined by my longtime friend and Co host Dave Hagar. Hey, gus, are you doing Dave goodsome through the pandemic. Awesome, awesome. We are RADIOCOM podcast and we are all so you can find us under the big top with sal the ring master, on the sports circus and also on amp TV, on hotel television. Today, today we're joined by one of my good friends and one of the greatest people I've ever met, one of the funniest people that I've ever been around. We love his family. He's a great guy, one of the greatest hockey players ever come out of the United States. He scored over four hundred twenty nine goals in his career and, you know, just amazing players. Played in the Olympics. Played for eight teams. That's tied my our good friend Ryan Fitzpatrick, who he's had on before, and football terms, so what's more than you gus? I know I've only played for seven. So welcome to the huddle, Billy Garran. Billy, thanks for being with us. We appreciate you. Man All, thanks for having me on. Guys, this is this is awesome and yeah, like that. That was pretty good. Guys, I wasn't expecting that that was that rolled off your tongue pretty smooth. I sounds like you've done it before. This is only like our sixties episode, so I should be okay at it. I did forget to mention Dave that he is the new and what fourth general manager of the Minnesota Wild. Yeah, yeah, I got the job back in August and it's been great. This is kind of a different, different experience for everybody, but in my first year as a GM I just didn't expect anything like this, but it's been awesome. I've enjoyed my time out here in Minnesota so far. Yeah, just think of that, you've been thrown a curveball as your first year as a GM. That's nobody's ever seen before. So what do you do? Yeah, I try to, I guess, just like everybody else, keep busy and keep trying to do all my work as much as we can. I've got a small group of guys that I keep in touch with every day. We've been doing our our college free agent, you know, search. We just signed a kid the other day, kid named Mitchell Chafee, out of you mass ammers, that we're really excited about. You know, we've got some scouting meetings coming up in the next six weeks or so, so we're always preparing for that and just trying to trying to keep up with this soul, with this whole coronavirus, and it's a moving target, and trying to keep the players is informed as possible and just kind of rolling with it. Yeah, but it's hey, there's nothing you can do. No, you know, a bill as a GM for an NHL team, how many people report...

...to you? Oh Boy, well, you know, you you try not to have to too many people report directly to you. So I probably have three or four people that directly report directly to me and then and then underneath them, it just keeps branding out, branches out. Yeah, like we'll have somebody run the amateur staff and there's probably about, you know, fifteen guys and the amateur staff. They'll report to that, the director of the amateur scouting, but the amateur scouting will report to the assistant GM, who will report to me, and we just kind of it's, you know, it's it works all right. So, billy, we're going to take a little trip down memory lane to a young bill garn growing up in Massachusetts. What is that point in your life where you fell in love with sports? Was Sport immediately, immediately, I just always, you know, like when, you know, talking to my mom, she was like you always had like a tennis ball or soccer ball, football or hockey stick or something in your hands or kicking it around, you know, since the time I could walk. So my love for sports was was was right away. It was you know, with hockey, it was it was instant. You know, my I don't know if a lot of people know my I don't know if you know this, guys, I you probably did, but my mom's from Nicaragua. Yeah, and so she didn't she didn't know hockey, obviously, and she didn't know what to do with me in the in the wintertime. I had a ton of energy and one of her friends this kind of suggest they take him skating. And you know, this other lady and her son, my mom and me and and we went skate and I fell in love with it. And so hockey was, you know, I got bit by the bug right away at a young age. But you know what, there was also Lacrosse, there is baseball, there was soccer, you know, backyard football games, were always playing, baseball in the neighborhood, everything we played. You know, I had a great neighborhood that I grew up on and and we had, you know, tons of kids around and we always had games. So it was sports has, you know, just like just like you. It's it's it's been my life. You. So were you with the ball guy? You know what, we played our fair share with a ball, more in high school. But what we we had this great little intersection in our neighborhood where we had a home plate, was like a you know, a man old cover right, and then we had then we had, you know, then you could, you would, you would run to first base and that was a sewer and then we throw something in the middle of the street for second base. Some kids at yeah, exactly exactly, and then third base was another sewer and then obviously back to home. But then there was a yard up on the left and they had a fenced in yard. So we had a we had a we had a home run fence. Oh yeah, which was got out of the run fence? Yeah, we would play with like a you know, an aluminium bat and a tennis ball. You know, I those games are just great and my buddy, my buddy Peter Munr, who grew up down the street, he was still still my best friend and we still talk about those games, and I mean those games would end in fist fights and arguments and and they just pick up and play again and it was awesome. It was awesome, it was great. Well, Dave and I always say that nobody does that anymore. Nobody just goes out there, whether where you go out in the backyard, there's no rests, there's no parents, you just go out and play and learn how to deal with situations and, you know, you learned how to let stuff roll off your back or whatever it is. Yeah, it's tough...

...and, to be honest with you, I don't know you guys did it, but I struggled with that as like a parent, like bringing my kids up, and and I'm just like just run out on the street and get everybody to get and play, and they're like what do you mean? Yeah, undertone. Yeah, you have to talk to your neighbor first. Yeah, that's a key. Like, we live in a neighborhood with a fair amount of kids. Barely anybody knows or in her acts, you know. So you can't just go outside and start a whiffleball game because no one's even met before. Yeah, yeah, go ring the doorbell right. That that's a start, right. See if see a little johnny's him down the street or whatever. Height and then, and then everybody started putting their kids in these private lessons and I'm like, you're you're just going to get better by playing. Just go. Yeah, just go play. And then I find out nobody's playing. So you have to start doing these private lessons and stuff like that, if you know, if you want to see see improvement. But I fought it for a long time. One of the best things that we had, we that we did though his kids growing up. It was was crab apple fights we had. We had a big we had a big crab apple tree in our neighborhood and we would literally get like the Brown grocery bags and we take, you know, take film up and fill them up and then you go and you make a fort and you get trash, you know, trash can lids. Those are your shields and you go all right, let's start and you just start whipping crab apples at each other and it was, it was the best. You go home with all sorts of well, it's all over you and if you yeah, it's awesome. Did you ever watch the Bow Jackson three thousand thirty, I think it was. He talks about how we got a strong arm. He said I used to throw apples. The same thing we I used to just whip apples everywhere because he lived by an apple orchard or something like that, and that's how he that's how he learned to throw. Yeah, I grew up in night in jis on Arizona. I grew up in Tucson and we would pick there called CACTUS fruit. So they grow, they would like the blossom for a Captus, but it would be like a little kind of like a crab apple but smaller, and inside it be like it almost be like caviare inside. So if you hit someone, it would hurt. I didn't. Would leap like a blacks mark. So it was almost like paint guns, but, you know, just impromptu. It was nature's paintball. Yeah, it was. It was so bally. So you had a kid that I grew I was I was a little mischievous and it started a young aide young age, and the kid down the street for me was the same. And he had apple trees in his yard, like real apple trees, and we used to get a bunch of apples that had fallen and line them up across the street like three or four rows, and then we'd have about five or six apples in our hands. If we hide in the bushes and cars would pull up and they'd slow down because it en't know was in the street and they'd go over the apples and when they'd slow down, we just we just start whipping our apples that at the cars. How many to take off? How many people chased you? The adrenaline rush was amazing. We're like eight. So all your your your mischievous stuff started at a young age. Yeah, Oh, yeah, yeah. Do you ever have the cops coming knock on your door and your mom answered? Thank goodness. It's not a good feelings. No, that's not a good feeling. So you go through your youth time. What high school did you end up going to? I went to a small prep school right in my hometown, Wilbraham and Munson Academy, and I started there actually in middle school and seventh and eighth grade and then and then when all you know, four years of high school there. I it was it was really good for me. There was a public school in my hometown, but...

...my parents thought I would benefit more from smaller classes, a little more individualized at tension, where I wouldn't I was a type of kid I would have just gotten lost in the shuffle and this was something where, you know, they could kind of keep their keep their finger on me and just, you know, it was better for me and it actually turned out to be a fantastic place for me. I actually just became a board member. Really that school nice of my Almam out of this year, which is I mean, it's surprised everybody. All my buddies are like you serious, yeah, circle this guy, this schools, this school's going downhill bad moved by them, but I'm really proud of it. It was, like I said, it was a great school for me. Did well enough and, you know, didn't didn't receive any academic awards, but I did well enough and I played lacrosse there. I didn't play hockey there. It was just great. It was awesome. So what did you play hockey like? How does that work? Will you pretty talented from the very beginning when you started playing, and how tell us how that works, like the development of a great hockey player? Yeah, yeah, I was. I was pretty talented at the beginning and I played just town hockey for Wilbraham and what happened was was when I was ten years old, there was a guy named Steve Burne. He was from Agwan and he was putting together a travel hockey team and that it just never been done in our area. And I was like, well, the ex of travel hockey team and well, he was actually talking to my mom. Yeah, and my mom was just so funny. She's just like, well, I don't know, talk to him, and so she hands me the phone. She's like, this guy's putting together a team. I'm ten years old, like talking to this guy. But then he started name and guys like like Sean Kane from Holyoke, Mike McLoughlin from long meadow, you know, Jason Kirby from South Hadley, Mark Solban from South Hadley, like all these guys that that I was playing against that were really good and we were all going to be on the same team and go into Boston and play all these so I was ten years old. Listen all these names. I said, yeah, sign me up, I'm in and so so and a lot of these guys, which is crazy, from that original pioneers team, Springfield Pioneers. I'm very good friends with today really is. Yeah, we had a lot of bus band rides. It was so we had two dads with with the school bus licenses. So we would we would rent a school bus on like we'd meet at a Ma all at like six o'clock in the morning, pile all the year on the back. Kids are boys, were in the back, parents were up front and one of the two dads are drive the school bus out to boss and we play a game, drive back and then maybe do it the next day if we had or maybe we had a home game, but that's the way it was. And then when, when I got to be fourteen years old, I graduated to the Springfield Olympics and my one of my mentors and greatest coaches ever was a guy named Gary Denin. Gary passed away, got about thirteen years ago now. Yeah, but Gary was a Canadian that played minor league hockey in Springfield and stayed there. He started a hockey school, yeah, that I went to, and then he started a junior team, but he in this was in the late s. He started it, but he ran it like a Canadian junior team.

So by the time I got there, you know all the guys that I came through that pioneers program with we graduated and went to play for Gary. Yeah, and and, and Gary just knew the he was way ahead of his time. He our league was kind of, you know, defunct. We only had four teams in the League, so we kind of became an independent team. So we would play all before title nine. All the college, big college teams had JV programs. Oh yeah, so we would play like a bunch of team, a bunch of games in our league. Then we play like, you know, Harvard, Yale, be you brown, like all these jv teams. And then we play a prep school schedule, awesome, where we play like Avon, old farms, Northwood Prep, even Toronto, Sat Mike's. So We'd end up playing like sixty games a year. But Gary put a premium on practice. It was two hours of practice every day through the week, and that's really where the development was right. And you couldn't, I would assume, like going to high school like your in blot of your time for sports was was safe for you know, out of high school with Gary and the team, because you didn't and I don't know how you could do that, because that would be hard to do. Like that happens a lot of kids now. I mean yeah, and hockey now, and that that I mean, that's kind of the norm, I would say. Yeah, so I to school. I went to was private school and yeah, you have to play, you know, three sports. I got I got a special exemption to, you know, to not have to do that. I they allowed me just to play Lacrosse so I could, you know, pursue the hockey thing. And the crazy thing about what we were we're called the picks. So in the funny thing about playing for the pis is that we would start earlier than the high school seasons, but then when the high school seasons would start, they had the premium on all the Ice Times. Yeah, so that would push us back. So I was, I was fourteen years old, playing with guys who were graduated from high school already. Some guys were eighteen, nineteen going on twenty. So our ice time became eleven, eleven thirty at night. Wow. So my my routine was come home, do my homework, I'd shoot a bunch of poks or something like that, and then I'd go sleep for a couple hours and then I'd wake up and go to practice and we'd practice, you know, at eleven thirty at night for, you know, an hour and a half and I'd go, you know, I'd get the home at I'd get home at one thirty, two and wake up and do it all over again. Wow, that was your and your mum was taking you everywhere. Well, I had guys. I might I didn't have a license for the first couple of years, but I had guys. I got grows here almost legal to drink. Give me a lot. Oh, yeah, I can imagine. Oh, and they were the best guys. Like still, you know, you still have relationships with these guys today. And No, it was. It was awesome and they took are me. You know, it was you know, I was a young kid kind of being thrown into this this older kid world and you know, it was an adventure, that's for sure. Tell us about the recruiting process. You end up going to Boston College, but like when did that start heating up? You know what that started heating up? Oh Man, probably my sophomore year a high school when we really started getting into playing like in these big prep school tournaments and playing the college Dave's. See, Gary knew that that's where all the exposure was...

...right and a look, you go, you go play. You Know Yale jv. The Yale coach is going to be there. Yeah, yeah, well, yeah, yeah, yeah, it's going to be watching. So he was checking boxes like that. So we'd go up and there was a great Prep School Tournament at Union College where ton of teams were in, a ton of scouts where, and that's when it really started heating up. I got offers to go play junior hockey in Canada and then the the you know, the college is just started rolling in. And this is another thing that I think a lot of the kids today. Miss is and Guss, I don't know if you got to do this, but I took five recruiting trips. Yeah, you're a five, you're allowed five, and I took all five. I went to BC Bu, Providence College, Maine in Michigan State, and I had a black Oh yeah, at every one of them. And the kids now, they they commit so early. They lose that. Yeah, and you'll lose that weekend of really getting to know like the school or the guys or the the social part of it. It's that. That was a blast, but in the end, you know, I was fourteen years old when Doug fluty through that pass right and and and my dad grew up a couple blocks from Holy Cross College. Yeah, being there see and Holy BC and Holy Cross. You still always have that rivalry. Yeah, and I wanted to go to BC. You just knew it. I knew Oh yeah, I knew it, and it just it worked out great. I loved it. It was it was. I always tell everybody I was in the accelerated academic program. So I graduated in two years. Yeah, that's good. What you know? Isn't the case? Well, probably, that's probably what. Almost two years longer than Big Walt, I would say. Yeah, yeah, it's a it's a good stretch longer than Walt. Yeah, it was. It was great two years. It's kind of funny. I was a sophomore, walt was a freshman. Down to be you and and we would run into each other at night. Yeah, because the schools are I mean they're a mile from each other. Yeah, so we would end up at the same you guys ran into each other at the library studying right exactly. We had the same tutor. Yes, yeah, so we want to thank everybody for joining us here on howd up with gusts on RADIOCOM. Our guest today Billy Garren. Billy, you know you you've had so much success in your career. You've made a ton of transitions. You're in college. Where is the first time for you that you realize that, hey, I'm going to have a really good shot of playing professionally? Well, it was, you know, a hockey is guys, it's it's an eighteen year old draft. You know it's different than football. And so I started thinking that before college because the draft is coming up. I knew I was going to be a high pick. And then, and then that happens. You just you know there's there's a real shot here. Yeah, and and then, you know, as college went along, you know the transition of college was was tough with them. By the end of college, the the first year you pretty comfortable. You're a good player, and then you come in the second year more confident and by the end of that year the game slowed down for you a little bit and you know it's it's time for the next level, it's time for the next thing. But I you know, you start getting that feeling and hockey a little bit before the draft.

And then, you know, as confidence grows in time goes on, you know you feel like you can. You can do it if you feelt like you do. You feel like you were more mature going into that situation because you played with such older guys when you were younger, you know what I mean. Yet it definitely helped being being around older guys. So going in as a freshman, I knew how to act, I knew. I knew what seniority was, I knew, I knew socially, you know, like going to parties and things like that, I could handle myself right. It wasn't anything I had seen. You know, it definitely helped. And I think playing wise, you know, playing for somebody that that that knew what was going on, that could develop and challenge in different ways. Gary was always big on character and you know, how to act and how to control yourself in certain situations and things like that. So I felt like I was really prepared for it. What was the scenario on draft day when you get the call? Like what we what we do and we with your family or yeah, like again it's different than you know, the NFL draft. Were there? I actually got drafted here in Minneapolis at the old met center. Yeah, and yeah, so my my mom, my mom, my dad and my my best friend were with me and my agent, Bob Murray, and you know, I yeah, I got I got picked fifth overall by the New Jersey devils and that was an incredible feeling. It was it was amazing and you know, to have to have your loved ones there just to go through the whole thing with you is is pretty awesome. I mean, do you think when that happens, is someone? Do you think back to those thirty practices and all that kind of stuff? I mean there has to be some recollection where you go, wow, this is it's kind of culminated to this. Yeah, I mean I think I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I mean I always tell you know people that we get in discussions and the game of hockey owes mean nothing. It's right. It's just given me. It's given me everything. Like what I mean everything, everything, the you know, even even my my family like it. You know, I met my wife when I was playing in New Jersey. If it wasn't for hockey, it wouldn't have brought me there. I wouldn't have better, you know, and then then the kids and just this. I don't know. I feel like I'm a really fortunate guy to live the life that that I have and and be involved in this game. And you know, when I see these kids now, because you know I am involved in the draft process, you just see these young kids going up there and you're there's a little bit of jealousy because they're going to they're starting, they're just starting and they just have such a great path in front of them. If if they do the right things and and handle it the right way, they can just they can just live a great life. Right and well, you know, it's funny that you have traveled all over this country playing hockey and move from team to team to team, and Annie and I have done that and NFL, and it's just you have done it the same way I have. Like we're most of the time you're bringing your family with you, because that was really important. So tell me about like how that whole family dynamics has played into your professional life for you, because I know you you were haven't done a lot of people just like I was. Yeah, exactly, and were you know what you are. Families are a lot alike and we did the same exact thing. And you know what, when when I go you know,...

...when I go get traded, we all go right. You know, at the the longdistance thing didn't didn't work for us. We didn't. You know what, I got traded at the deadline twice and it's hard living away from your family and things like that. So we always, we always wanted to stay together and you know guts, you know just as well as I do. I mean we all do. We got rock solid wives. Oh yeah, that that is like you cannot. I mean they look, we got the easy thing. We get traded, we go and you know, we got twenty new buddies. Were playing a new team. Everything's great, they're they're back home, they're figuring out what to do with the kids there or when we move because we got traded or signed as a free agent somewhere. You know, they're getting the new schools going, they're getting the soccer teams, they're trying to help make friends, they're doing all that stuff. So the the relationship and having a rock solid relationship with your wife is is is so important, and that's just the way we did it. And you know what, yeah, we played in eight teams. Put again, like, I look back at it as a positive because, I mean you know, you and I've been friends for a long time now and it's just I played sixty games for the same lows blues. That's it. That's it. But you know what, we became great friends in that time and, you know, had a couple, you know, Really Fun Times that our family and we still talk about when you guys came to the game in Pittsburgh and we should the arena down. We shut we shut the civic arena down for the melon down right. Our kids were playing hide and go seek because we wanted to finish all the beers in the wive knowluge, right, and it's just yeah, you know what. And the sad thing is is we could do that. We could drink all the beers in there. And what was it? The was it. I still see pictures of it in New Year's Eve party at Walt's house. That was a good one. I think fits he there than fits he was there. Yeah, we're all making fun of his massive head. Yeah, it was pretty big. It's even looks bigger now because of the beard. Yeah, it just like it's it's like wide and long, but there's a lot he's a lot taller now. Standing on his Wallet to Oh, yeah, yeah, well, I know, yes, seven kids. So you tell me. I mean that's that's crazy, but he's wonderful. So, Billy, tell me some stories sound like, because I know that you're known as one of the funniest guys that when you come in a locker room, you know, you talk about how hockey doesn't know you anything and you have you just enjoy every day about it. But I know from when you were playing you were one of those guys that brought life into the locker room. So one of my favorite stories is when you come in and you act like a gorilla and you're growing up and down the lockers. I mean you've heard that a thousand times from different people that have played the game, but there's something about bringing that spirit in that into a locker room, because not every day is a great day. No, no, not every day it's a great day and you tracky, you try to make it be, but there are some it's a hard life and I always just try to have fun and I never really took myself too seriously. I prided myself on being able to do things like that and, you know, Make Fun of myself or make fun of teammates, but be able to flip the switch and right when they're ready to drop the PUCK, I was ready to play. Yeah, but there are I mean, I don't know, there are so many, so many good there was, you know, our team and St Louis, we weren't very good, right, and it was just it was a tough season and just to keep things light, I I was just trying to keep the guy's lights. I was doing some warm up...

...sprints in the locker room before the game with nothing on. So I was going, I was going down and back in the dressing room and down on one end of the room where the doors were to go out, and as I got to that one end to turn around, the president of our team, John Davidson, was seeing right there looking at it. I mean we're fifteen minutes to puck drop, right, and he just he just started shaking his head and it always calls me big boy. He goes, big boy, how you doing? I'm like good. So I play guilty that night. Yeah, no, you know, just just stuff like that to keep you all practical. Jokes and you know that. You know I didn't, like I said, it's a hard life. You just you have to you have to be able to laugh at yourself every once in a while and, you know, just as long as you're ready for game time. And I think that I've had that in my career to or. I love playing practical jokes and having fun in the locker room and enjoying my time. And I mean I froze Morton Ander since clothes for crying out a lot out in the block of ice a minute when we both played a Minnesota his first week in Minnesota. I never met the guy, but I'm like, okay, we're going to find out if he likes me or not. So, yeah, but he was in his S. Yeah, and but I also have been in places where I've done that and coaches would come up to me and say, you know, this isn't a place where you mess around, and I'm like, well, I don't do all field. I crossed the lines and I'm serious, and you know what I mean, except when I mess with Fitzy a little bit during practice or whatever. But you know, some people just don't see it the same way. Right. I'm all like, we're a family, we're here every day together. You got to have some fun. Yeah, and there's there's a time and place for everything right? Well, I would to ask bill, like when you broke into the League, compared to like you, you still go in the locker room now, is at GM? Is there a difference in tone as a pretty much the same as it was. Is it more businesslike or less businesslike? Or there's a does a? It's the same as it was twenty five years ago. Now I find the guys a lot more serious now, like or they take themselves very seriously now, and it's nice every once in a while when you do walk by the dressing room, I try to stay out of there, but they are having fun. I think the guys really still do have a lot of fun. Yeah, and they love it. And and and I I told our guys, you know, before the season. You know, I be who you are. You know if you're if you're serious, that's be serious. If you're funny, be funny. Like if you're practical joker, do it like. You have to have character in order to be a good team, but you need any characters as well. You have to have life in the room. So you know what, if you know, if we're at the rink and I see guys, you know, laughing before they go out on the ice or whatever like that. That's good because they're they're happy right having a good time, and right have to be. If you if you try to make guys sit there and focus and and you know, you know, just think about the game. Just think about the game, that doesn't work. You have to let you have to let people be who they are. And you know, I don't. I don't hold that against guys and it'll because I wouldn't want anybody holding that against me because no matter what I did or how loose I tried to keep things, I was ready to play right now. You always were, and I mean you've scored twenty goals and I don't know how many seasons in a row it was. I was trying to follow up a lot of your stats. I mean there's just so many. T'm not an analytics guy and but you've had tremendous stats over your whole career. But you know, this is a Yinser kind of podcast because...

Dave and I are here in Pittsburgh. You bring all that talent and all that energy and all your veteran leadership to Pittsburgh and you have a you know, a team that's kind of younger. You know, how did you influence that? When you walked in that locker room the first time, you start skating with all those penguins? You know, how did that? How did you feel like you fit in? Well, you know how it is, the more times you get to a new team, that, you know each time gets us knees right, right. So by that time I was in all, thirty, thirty eight years old, right, and you know, I'd been there before, so I was pretty comfortable walking in. But you know what it was? It was different because they had some really young superstars, you know, right, crosby, Malkin, guys like that, and it was a little different walking in, but I had a blast and and to be honestly, those guys are so good for me really just, Oh yeah, just being around these these young guys and they worked hard and practice and, you know, sid drove the bus with that. So for me, as an older guy who could kind of manage my way through a practice right case myself, that was over, you know, and so they pushed me and I feel like, you know, there were tense times, you know, especially in the playoffs. That that that I helped him right and you know, I think you know, just bringing a little little light to the to the locker room and then, you know, maybe a little bit of experience gave gave guys comfort and but it was a good fit. It was a great fit. One of the all time greatest experiences of not just my hockey career but my life. It was, it was awesome. Well, you were beloved here in Pittsburgh and you brought a lot. I think you you kind of downplaying a little bit, but you brought a lot to the city of Pittsburgh and when you came here I think they were looking for some of that, you know, even though we had tremendous talent, you were kind of that glue, that spirit that brought him all together. Because when I watch those the the Games, and when you guys want to Stanley Cup and how you know they brought it to you. I mean that's big. I mean you can you earn that? You know, that's just not hey, billy's the oldest guy, or's give it to him. You know what I mean? I mean earned that here. I appreciate it. I yeah, maybe I did. I I it just went really well. It was just a perfect fit. It really was. It was. It was good fit for me it was good fit for them and you know, we went. We went back to our to Long Island for a couple of years and and Karen I had many, many discussions, right and finally we just pulled the trigger and we said we want to move back to Pittsburgh, and that was the only move that we decided to make on our own. You couldn't and couldn't be without the salad with fries on it. Nah, we're missing downtown. Yeah, well, you know, and then you're here, you come back and you know, you start working in the front office. What was that transition like from player to front office? Did you ever think you were going to do that? I did. I did, and, you know, towards the end of my career, started thinking about it and I knew I wanted to stay in the game. So you know what, when? When? When I decided to do it, you know, I called Very Shiro and and he get he gave me great advice. He said look at the scariest things. He goes the scariest thing for me as an ex player who wants a title, a business card and a paycheck and not...

...work for it. And I was okay, I'm going to work and and you know, I took a little bit of time off. Then I started for all on time if fitzgerald around, and they created a role for me is player development, and so I started getting my hands, you know, kind of in every department, you know, scouting, dealing with Wilkesbury, I was involved, or they let me sit down on the trade deadline, free agency, the draft, yeah, all those things. So it was kind of like, you know, working in the mail room. Yeah, but I knew, you know, because of because of a the one thing I was going to have to do is work, and I really wanted to. I knew I had the respect of like our scouts because of my playing career and things like that, but I wanted them to respect me for my work I did post playing, the word I did with them. Yeah, and to so I worked really hard at that and, you know, then it just kept going. You know, Ray Ray got fired, Jim Rutherford came in and elevated me to assistant gm and I just kept learning and learning and learning along the way. And you know, experiences just you can't beat experience and it just takes time to go through different situations, be around experience GM's like Ray and Jim and and and working hard. There's no there's no substitute for for working hard either, and it's it's really what helped me get here. Didn't hear you mean you'll gain the respect of the other people in the organization, because you said he didn't start in the mail room. But figuratively, you climbed your way up, you know, through the organization and yeah, chose a lot. You weren't just placed at a high level. No, I wasn't, and you know it. It gave me a lot of perspective on on financially as well, because you don't make a ton right when when you when you start out, and it's so there are a lot of different things in but yeah, I worked and you know when I was doing player development and I would join Wilkesbury's coaching staff for the playoffs, I was away. Was Gone Forty out of forty five nights one playoff season and you know, in Cara is back home. You know, she's like, Oh, some retirement. Yeah, but she also she also knew that I was that I was driven and that this is something I wanted to pursue in that was that was part of my path. Now that's really good. So when you were back here and you started kind of making those steps forward, and I know Mary it was an owner. How did he help? Could he help you with any of that, being an owner and former player as well? And was he involved a lot with with the penguins daytoday? You know what, he was more involved with Jim or with Ray, as you know, the GM's and stuff. But you know, Mario's a friend and to have Mario Lemieu as one of your owners right, is a lug is is is a real luxury. Oh Yeah, because you know, I mean he comes down, he's just there's an aura around him, right, there's a confidence to him, and when things aren't going well and he just comes walking down to the you know, the offices or the coaches offices, and he just comes walking and you're almost kind of like, Oh God, okay, everything's going to be fine. Right, we're going to be all right, you know, and that's just that's the luxury of having him around, you know, and and it's just special. And you know him and Ron Burkell, for we're great people to work for. The I mean you talked about first class, like they just just do it right. Yes, do...

...it right. It really do. You know, it reminds me of like the whole Patriots and Belichick thing. You know, they just do it right. They know how to win and they do it right and and they keep putting the parts together. It's going to be interesting to watch them this year. But even with the penguins, you know, it's like, Hey, we got Mario, we got a great organization and now we got some really you know, Sydney's not the kid he was when you started with them, you know, and you know there I'm sure they're out hard finding the next guy in the next few years. Oh for sure they are. The and then but the foundation and of like of of their culture and they're winning and everything is there and that that's not going to here. The foundation of, you know, solid ownership, strong management, like all that stuff is there and you saw it this year, you know, you said the Patriots. Well, you know watching the penguins from far and they had so many injuries this year and they kept winning, you know, and that's I was really proud of that because, you know, part of that Wilkes Barre Pittsburgh connection and the the the development that went on. There's so many guys work so hard to make that the way it is. They didn't miss a beat. Yeah, it was out for a while, then Ghencel was out and they just kept coming and coming and coming and and and that's that's that's pretty amazing. It haven't did it. That depth can be traced back to your works. That must be I mean, that's satisfying. I'm sure to see that. It's really satisfying. And to look back, you know, look back years. They're just a number of guys, you know. I mean it's it did start with ray and it's, you know, Tommy Fitzgerald, Jason Batroll, Dan McKinnon, you know, they then Jason Carmano's jump, soundboard, Patrick Alvin, like all these guys that continue to you know, like you know, ray left and Jason Left and fits he left and Dan left, eye left, but it's it continues because everybody just keeps building and building and building. Yeah, you build a great foundation there. So, billy, the other day we had Elizabeth Biswan. She was on three time Olympic swimmer. You've been to three Olympics yourself, I think. So tell us a little bit what it was, what your experience was like going to the Olympics. It's unbelievable. Like I it's just it's just crazy, like it's just an unbelievable experience. It's tough to really nail it down, but like to be one of my favorite things was to be around all the other athletes. And some of these athletes train just as hard or harder than we do. You know, the guys in the NHL, they don't get paid and some of them know that they're not. They're not going to win right, but they go and they compete. It's just this the like the true spirit of sports, you know, representing your country in a sport, training and just going there and competing and giving it you're all and it's just, yeah, it's an amazing experience. Fellows, really lucky to be a part of three of them. And you know, when a silver medal in Salt Lake and the one of the neatest things to us like when you go to the cafeteria, it yeah, and you walk in, you know you got your USA jacket on and it's that. You know there's there is actually a Jamaican Bob slide team and they're there. I those guys are right there. They're right there. You know, I met a guy from from Ireland one year and and and he was a skier. Think he was a skier, but damn for athletes. And then win our Olympics and it was like their first...

...time. Things like that are really cool. Like you just you know, you meet people from all over the place and you know there's no separate seating arrangements or anything. So you know, small grouping. You'll go and grabbed dinner whatever, but you're sitting next to people from three or four other countries right and yeah, it's just awesome. Yeah, I bet that experience was great. Well, there's an example of a guy that you who knew he wasn't going to win, the guy from Ireland. He's on the ski team. You know, like that's that's that's a tough one, exactly. Not a lot of mountains. No, no, but I know what they go, they train, they go, they compete and and and they're proud of it and like they're you know their countries is like they they just think it's great there. They're like heroes. It's awesome. Now you've been the Stanley Cup, you've been in the Olympics, you've done all these great things. Now you're starting a whole new venture for yourself. Right, you're the GM you're running a team. Are you excited for the future of the wild? Yeah, yeah, I I'm really excited. It's we've got a good foundation here. I think we're only going to get better. I think there are some moves I think maybe we can make, you know, maybe this summer, maybe next year, that will help us get even better. But you know, I you could see it in the team we needed to really find some consistency and I think by the end of the year we did. We started out terribly. We were one in seven or one in eight. Then we put it together for a stretch of about six weeks where we, you know, we had the best record in the league, right and then we and then we dipped again and then, you know, you know, a couple weeks out of this this pause in the season, you know, we're playing really good hockey again and and put ourselves back in playoff contention. So really happy with a lot of other things that that I saw this year and you know, my job is to try to improve the team and try to help make it better. Yeah, so I know playing in Minnesota three of my fifteen years that you know, you start winning some games you start doing some good things. They're rabid fans up there, incredible people, you know, they say, with you through thick and thin, and I think that you're going to do amazing job. They're going to fall in love with Billy Garren and and really in joy you being part of the Minnesota Wild. I'd no doubt in my mind about that. Well, I appreciate it, but he it's a it's a crazy hockey community. I mean this is the only this is really the only market where it's part of the fabric of the the state like this. This everybody plays this game. Everybody's got a connection of this game and you know, if we can bring a winner here, it'll be it'll be something and you know, we're loving living here. It's been it's been awesome. I mean, I know this is kind of a crazy time right now, but man, we've had some fun. Yeah, I mean know Minnieso, when I've lived there, I love driving down the old roads and seeing kids out in the ponds and you know, they're sweeping off the putting the nets up. You know, you talked about playing wolf of ball and you had a mane covered couple sewer lines and put a hat down for second base. They're out there cleaning off ponds and playing hockey. It's it was really one of the last places that you see people going out and doing that kind of stuff. Yeah, you're really doing it's pretty special and it's something that I know it's important to, you know, the people here that to kind of preserve that and, yeah, it's fun to be a part of. I actually did something really cool this year. I went ice fishing. Oh, did, you can't do very I did. I did, and it was a blast, you know. I mean we didn't, we didn't rough it. We had one of those trailers that was all teched out. Oh yeah, stuff like that, but man, it was fun turn on a propane heaters, get the yeah, it's that's it's a nice...

...way TV. Oh my God, it was awesome. How far up north did you go? o? Were you close to the city? Now, we were close to the city where. Yeah, there, we didn't have to go far. We were, but you were far from the cities. You were doing it like grumpy your old men. You ever see that movie? So No, we were not doing it like grumpy old man. But when Kara and I first met on our first day we went to see grumpy old men. Oh Really? Yeah, it was so what I will that was our first date. So when we moved here, I bought her a little like kind of like an eight by ten movie poster of grumpy old men. That's hanging. It's hanging on our wall. That is a good that that it's cat full circle, man. Yeah, no doubt, no doubt. So I want to thank everybody for joining us on huddle up with gusts and you can find us under the big top with sal the ring master, on sports circus and also on amp TV and hotel television. Billy, one of the last things we do, it's called the no huddle segment. We just fire bunch of questions at you and and you come back with some great answers. You know, we're just moving the ball down the field right now. All right, gay, fire away. Okay, Bill, if you're going to make a Boston Mount Rushmore, who's on it? Bobby or Tom Brady? Carlia Stramsky, Larry Bird? That's about the best mountain, yeah, we've ever heard. All right. Well, yeah, what's your pet? Peeve? My pet peeve. You know what? Honestly, my pet peeve is rude people me, like when somebody doesn't say they're sorry, or people don't hold the door for each other. Oh, that's right, hate that. You know what honestly, like for guys, like if you don't let if you don't hold the door for a lady or let women go first or something like. Guys that aren't gentlemen. Right, I hate I'm pretty good about holding the door for people, but I'll hold it and like for people walk through and none will even say like hey, thanks buddy, or anything like them. A doorman. I'm going. Okay, I'm glad I could help. All right, now, that's terrible, horrible. Our Bill. What's your favorite sports uniform ever? Oh Man, are you serious? Favorite sports uniform ever? Oh Wow, that's a good one. You know what? I'M gonna have to go back to like the nineteen, like the S Bruins. You know form. That's just a sweet it's just a classic for me. Yeah, I just this slog all right, billy, that's all. You can only go watch one team play. Is it the Bruins, the Patriots, the Celtics? Where the Red Sox? Oh Man, I'm going to watch the socks. I like I got to go to fat I got to go to fenway. Fenways incredible. I've never been. That's all as one of the things I've never been to yet. You have it's the best. It's the best. You have to go. All right, billy. What's your biggest sports heartbreak, whether it was as a player or as a fan? Oh, that's an easy one. Getting cut from the one thousand nine hundred and ninety two Olympic hockey team. That would be a...

...hard break, all right. But favorite sports movie, slapshot, has got challenge me, Dude. We I interviewed Dave Hanson. Fantastic, Unbelieva best hour of my life. Was Unbelievable. He was. He was so much fun. Good, just book. You have to read his book. Really even mention it to you and he can read it to you. Yeah, somebody has to, because I can't read it. Yeah, he was on the podcast and never mentioned his book. Yeah, he's ever said. Yeah, you gotta get his book. He's an unbelievable guy. He's a great guy. What's your favorite Sitcom ever? Oh, my God, favorite Sitcom ever pribabefacts of life. Yeahs Blair was pretty hot either. That are different strokes. No, my favorite Sitcom ever probably probably be cheers. Oh, it's good, that's d yeah, that's a family guy, his family guys. Not a Sitcom. Isn't someone count it? We'd count it. Signs, sign felt too. Yeah, Oh, yeah, it's that's Mount Rushmore stuff there. Yeah, I'll stick with cheers. Yeah, all right, bald, all right, billy, two more if you go back and give a young bill garren some great advice. What would that advice be? Oh my God, now I guess. Now you're talking to Liam. Yeah, just just stay in the odd night. It's good stuff there. Last one day. Okay, if you could be a member of a rock band, say from boom. I was quick, molly. Did you see the Motley crew movie? The I've seen it seven or eight times already. Are you really that's quite a beginning on that movie. Yeah, so, wait, wait, I didn't even let you finish a question. No, you, you knew. You got it. I've won more for you. This is more serious, though it's and it will going back to NHL. If it wasn't, if it wasn't motley crue, would be a member of the street bad be like enjoyable. Yeah, I'd be good, but molly, molly crew. Wait, would you be lead singer or like, play an instrument? I don't think I have the looks for Lee. It's pretty tough to replace Vince Neil. Yeah, you'd be the drummer. You could be, I could be, could be. It'd be hard to be Tommy Lee either. You couldn't replace any one of those guys that have to be I don't know, I'd be a Roadie or something. Yeah, I'd be. I'd be like Second Guitar Guy by Nick Mars. After seeing Tommy Lee's video, I don't think I could be Tommy Lee either, but that was some helpful right now, here's here's one. If you'RE NHL Commissioner for a day, what rule change would you make? Oh Boy, Oh man, that's a tough one because he's got a bus of six things going through your head right now. I know, and I'm trying to pick the right one. Make goalies playable if they came out to play the PUCK. Yeah, I love it. I like that, like when they're behind the net and they're not. You know, if you want to, if you want to, if you want to come out to the top of the circle and play a park finish your checks on you. Yeah, I hear you. I hear about I do like that one. Hey, buddy, I really appreciate you being in a huddle with Dave and I. It was awesome to get to see you and I hope I get up there to Minnesota to visit and, you...

...know, just a friendship. Thanks. Yeah, appreciate it. Thanks for joining Dave and I for a little while. Sorry, had some trouble with your phone and skype. Yeah, yeah, thanks, it's yeah, you're not all. Yeah, we're all technically challenge Jays. Thanks for having me. I guys just all right. Take care of Buddy. Talking to those built. We want to thank everyone for listening to huddle up with guess please go to our website, huddle up with Gustscom and subscribe and leave us a message and let us know what you thought about the podcast or maybe future guests you would like to hear from. So thank you again for listening. To huddle up with gusts and find us on the new RADIOCOM APP or under the big top at the sports circus hosted by sal the ring master.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (166)