NYI Fan Central will be reviewing all players with the gm and coach from top to bottom with one full blog for everyone and a final grade to their performance.
Today we begin that process with the Captain of the 2007-08 New York Islanders.
Bill Guerin during the season said it all comes down to what you do on the ice.
I do not know what he specifically did in the locker room on a day to day basis but have little doubt this was a good group of people behind the scenes but it's veterans played poorly. For all the talk of grit, character and heart as a unit they did not seem to compete as hard as they could when the puck dropped and as captain he has to be held accountable for that.
Many nights the prospects were the best players late in the season while early this was a club that scored two goals fourteen games in a row that should have finished them for the season but did not.
Many nights like against Anaheim, Los Angeles and a lot of other games this team did not show up at all. Isles lost seven in a row but responded with six in a row so he deserves his share of credit also for being part of the turnaround.
Bill Guerin had an awful lot asked of him at this point of his career which may not be fair but comes with the contract, the captaincy and the role he was given and accecpted as a first line player.
Ted Nolan was not happy with his veterans and did single them out pretty much most of the season from his merit system speech down to threatening to skate them every day the final weeks. The captain has to be included in that despite the coach never calling out Guerin and praising him often.
I know Bill Guerin got his twenty goals and showed he still has his hands and a quick step when he needs it. I also know his impact on games most nights was minimal at best as he played on the perimeter for the first few months and also at best was a streaky scorer on a club where it's veteran scoring let them down and had to happen for them to have any chance at all.
In mid-december his play finally picked up, he got to the dirty area's of the ice and he said at the time he was pressing and lacking confidence. I thought the December stretch would finally let him settle in here and relax, but that never seemed to happen.
Outisde of some horrible goaltending by Olaf Kolzig in one early season game and some other goals that looked like bad goals given up he seemed to struggle from beginning to end with few stretches he did produce as he had to. I do feel he did all he could and gave his best effort and it was a big adjustment to go back to the Eastern Conference after years out west much less take the burden of being a captain for the first time in his career with a lot of new faces.
His comments about the powerplay in March also have to be a reflection of his performance on it and no doubt he had input as to his role.
Am I going to tell you he quit? No, he could have been playing hurt and looked worn down and played far more games then you expect for this point in his career but having written that.....
This man dove to get a puck to Vasicek for a goal the other night, he dropped his gloves several times this year at a point in his career where he's the one who players should be looking out for. I felt the young players respected him and you could see him talking with them often if you looked close.
On this team Bill Guerin had to concentrate more on his defense which was the club's system which also likely hindered his offensive performance combined with not having a first line talent.
In the end at this point in his career Bill Guerin is a third line support player who is best served on a team with a lot of speed, skill and proven scoring that can get him the puck where he needs it to be most effective so he can get his thirty goals. That is not likely to happen for him here.
Guerin is signed for next season and will likely be back with next fall because they need what he brings in terms of leadership with his scoring. With Trent Hunter, Kyle Okposo on right wing (if he makes the team) and neither first line talents with Satan not a first line right wing (if he resigns) it seems for the moment that is where Guerin will play. Garth Snow and Ted Nolan are going to have to make things easier for him by getting him some help because they need him to produce.
A very generous D based on a bunch of players who seemed to like one another and the fact he stuck up for his teammates who still showed he has his hands combined with a club that concentrated on defense. I think he did all he could but most night's it was not nearly enough to have an impact.