I was fortunate enough to be trying out for the Islanders in 2007-2008 when Bill Guerin(notes) was the captain. Better still, because my Dad was in town, I got to be included in a golf outing with Billy and friends, and thus, a friendship was born.
Well, a one-sided friendship anyway.
....OK, I have a man-crush on Guerin. (/scribbles his name on a notebook.)
Anyway, I called him up for a chat on Thursday and asked him some hockey questions. Enjoy.
Q. How's things in Philly?
GUERIN: Good, things are good, just trying to make my way and enjoying it.
Good stuff. I'll just jump into it here -- you've scored 20 goals for seven different teams. If I were you, I'd probably be insulted if I had to go somewhere on a tryout contract. How did you feel about that?
Well, I guess at first I was a little confused about what was going on, and why it was so hard; but I think when I took the time to not focus on myself and see what was going on around the league -- there were a TON of good players in my position -- then I didn't really feel so bad. It's a changing landscape, the League, so I feel pretty fortunate to have a tryout. There's a lot of guys who don't.
I guess man. Did you have a little pity-party at first?
Uummm, not really, I was just kinda confused. I didn't know what was going on and I didn't know what to make of it. This year was just so much different than anything I had ever seen, it was just strange.
What were your other options, beyond the Philadelphia Flyers?
You know what, I didn't really have much else going on, which is another reason I was pretty grateful for the tryout. And you know, it's what I could get - I didn't feel like I was done playing. I mean, I could've retired I guess, but I'm just not... I'm not ready for that.
So then, how is the tryout going so far?
I think it's going pretty well, you know, there's a lot of good players here. Paul [Holmgren] and Peter [Laviolette] have been up-front and honest with me, and like I said, all I was asking for was the opportunity, and I think it's gone pretty well.
Nice. I heard your elbow is kinda banged up; what's the prognosis there?
Well, I'm just gonna rest it, just one of those things that you need to give a couple days, make sure there's no infections, just give it time to heal. Nothing too serious.
Alright, gear switch. So you've been on ... seven teams?
Ah, this would be nine.
Nine, got it. So, what's been your favourite city to play in so far?
Well, there's good things and bad things about playing everywhere it seems, you learn a lot when you travel around. I just can't say one place is better or worse than the other; I've been on so many teams thus far, so I've been lucky to have a positive experience everywhere I've been.
Do you consider yourself an East Coast guy or a west coaster?
Ah, the teams I've played for have been right down the middle too, four and four, but ... um, probably an East Coast guy. That's just where I was born and raised, and I spent the bulk of my career out this way, so yeah, I'm an east coast guy.
Yeah, for some reason I consider myself at East Coast guy too, but living out this way [in Arizona], with the weather ... I dunno.
Yeah, that's pretty tough to beat - I mean, Dallas was really tough to beat, living-wise. We really enjoyed that.
Yeah, my Dad coached down there for a few years, he just thinks it's the greatest place.
OH, Texas? Texas is awesome. It's just so much fun living there, the people are just outstanding too.
Back on track: Let's have the mandatory question about your boy Sidney Crosby(notes) with your former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They've had trouble finding the right fit for him there, and there are occasionally questions about his ability to make his linemates better. Do you think that's something he does well?
Oh, I mean, without a doubt. He instantly makes whoever's on his line better. Sid's a great player, I think he makes everyone better, but what he's doing is so incredible that you kind of forget to notice anyone else's improved play. He's going to immediately put a couple more goals on the end of your stick and a couple more assists, just because of what it is that he does, but what he's doing it, it's just so ... I mean, what he's doing to the game right now is absolutely incredible.
So to try to notice anybody else? It's really difficult. You just get so trained on what this Kid is doing.
Yeah, fair enough. Other than Sidney, who's the best player you've ever played with?
(Exchange pleasantries, and, scene.)
Justin Bourne is a former player in the WCHA, AHL and ECHL, and had an NHL tryout with the New York Islander in 2007. His father, Bob Bourne, won four Stanley Cups with the Islanders in the '80's, as did his fiancee's dad, Clark Gillies. He blogs on Bourne's Blog. His columns and videos will appear on this site on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.