Bill Guerin was 9 years old when he watched the U.S. men complete the “Miracle on Ice” and win the 1980 Olympic gold medal.
“That had a huge impact on how I saw the game of hockey — the path I wanted to go down and how deep I bled the red, white and blue colors,” said Guerin, now 53 and a three-time Olympian himself.
More than 40 years after that iconic moment in Lake Placid, New York,Guerin could have an outsized role in bringing a gold medal back to the United States in 2026.
For the first time since 2014, men’s hockey at the Olympic Winter Games will feature the best athletes in the world, as the NHL will allow its players to compete in the Games in 2026 and 2030. With the decision becoming official last week, USA Hockey announced Thursday that Guerin will serve as general manager for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team competing in two years in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
Guerin was tapped to fill the same role for USA Hockey in 2022 before the NHL decided not to have its players attend Beijing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a call with reporters Thursday, Guerin made his expectations clear for Team USA in 2026.
“Our depth now in USA Hockey is second to none. We have one of the deepest benches in the world,” Guerin said. “I just don’t see why we shouldn’t be thinking gold medals.”
Guerin used the plural because he was also referring to the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-Off, an international tournament featuring the U.S., Canada, Sweden and Finland that will happen next February in place of the NHL All-Star Game.
Having an international tournament a year in advance of the Games should help build continuity going into the team’s biggest test, Guerin said.
“I'm very appreciative of this formula of giving us a longer runway to put together a staff … that can work together multiple times, or at least one time before the Olympics start,” he said. “I don't know what's going to happen in the 4 Nations, but whatever happens there, we can build off that together and see where we can improve.”
Guerin brings more than a decade of experience as an NHL executive into this role. After working in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ front office for eight years — helping the Penguins win Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 as the assistant GM — Guerin is in his fifth season as the GM for the Minnesota Wild.
Guerin has even more experience as a player, boasting an 18-year NHL career with Stanley Cup wins in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils and 2009 with the Penguins.
In addition, he played in seven international tournaments for Team USA,helping the U.S. win the inaugural 1996 World Cup of Hockey and a silvermedal in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Guerin said he leans on his playing experience daily in his role with the Wild, and he expects to do the same when building U.S. rosters for these upcoming events.
“What would I have liked, what would I have disliked? What were good situations? How were we treated? What could have been better?” he said. “All those things that I experienced as a player in the NHL and at the Olympic Games, those are experiences I lean on now, and I will try to help make myself as strong as a GM as I can and to help everybody out.”
Guerin added that the key to success will be getting buy-in from players and trying to get the team to mesh with each other as soon as possible.
“That’s what I saw in my experience; the teams that come together the quickest are the ones that have the better success,” he said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.