ST. PAUL — Wild general manager Bill Guerin, like most people across the country, is simply trying to fill his days at this point.
While he still has work obligations that come with running the Wild front office, he was the first person to admit that things have been pretty dull since the NHL indefinitely suspended the 2019-20 season last week amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Does it stop completely? Not at all,” Guerin said Tuesday, March 17, in an interview with the Pioneer Press. “Does it slow down significantly? Yes.”
There are still things Guerin has to get done. Just not at the rapid pace he’s used to during the season.
His days consist of helping out on the business side of operations, monitoring things like available college free agents, and yes, figuring out how soon he can get top prospect Kirill Kaprizov to the Twin Cities.
His nights consist of hanging out with his wife Kara, middle daughter Grace, son Liam, and youngest daughter Lexi. His eldest daughter Kayla is studying at Durham University in England and won’t return stateside.
“It’s awesome having them here,” Guerin said. “We had a serious game of Clue last night and I was accused of cheating twice.”
In that moment, an indistinguishable voice chimed in from the background, forcing him to immediately change course.
“Fine,” Guerin said. “I was caught cheating twice. I still lost. I’m not very good very good at that game.”
This is the new normal and could be for the foreseeable future after the federal government recommended Monday to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Guerin said. “And I never thought it would get to this point.”
But it has, and for that reason, the Wild GM is happy the NHL shut down last week.
“Personally, my first thought was, ‘OK. This is the right thing to do,’” he said. “The harder part is going to be as it goes along and we get further and further into it. I’ve played it out in my mind wondering if we can save the regular season. Nobody knows what’s going to happen.”
Guerin is holding out hope that the NHL will continue the 2019-20 season at some point. That would give the Wild (35-27-7, 77 points) an opportunity to chase down the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They were one point behind the Nashville Predators for that final spot last week when the NHL hit pause.
“Just trying to think positively about it right now,” he said. “(The playoff race) was getting exciting, so I hope we get that chance to make a run.”
While it’s unclear how long the hiatus will last — commissioner Gary Bettman has yet to provide an official timeline — it still is a couple of months away at the very earliest. If the season does resume, Guerin emphasized the need for some sort of a training camp.
“Just some time for these guys to get back into it,” he said. “They might be elite athletes; they are also human beings. We want to make sure they aren’t put in a position where they can get easily injured.”
It’s only been a week and Guerin admitted he’s getting already antsy. He also understands the magnitude of the current situation.
“I know we’re doing the right thing,” he said. “This is bigger than hockey.”
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