WESTBURY, N.Y. -- Bill Guerin's young daughter yelled with
delight when a picture of her goal-scoring father appeared on a big
The 36-year-old right winger had nearly the same reaction
moments later when he saw the "C" on his brand-new Islanders
jersey. Guerin had no idea he had already been chosen by general
manager Garth Snow and coach Ted Nolan to be the 11th captain in
Guerin was formally introduced to Long Island on Monday, less
than a week after signing a two-year deal with the Islanders.
Outside of a four-game, injury fill-in stint in Edmonton, Guerin
hasn't served as an NHL captain.
"I'm a little surprised," he said, drawing laughter from a
banquet room filled with team sponsors, fans and media. "I'm
thrilled about it. It's a tremendous honor. I don't take this
Guerin is the latest fresh face of the Islanders, a franchise
that still embraces its dynasty days of the 1980s while trying to
matter again in the 30-team NHL. New York is looking for Guerin to
show the form that led to a 36-goal campaign last season with St.
Louis and San Jose, and not the 13-goal output he posted the season
before with Dallas.
"I think I've been closer to the 30 goals more than 13," said
Guerin, who has hit the mark five times in 14 full NHL seasons. "I
think it was just a bad year."
So do the Islanders, who will pay him $9 million over two
When the free-agent signing period opened, the Islanders were
hit hard by defections. In the first few hours, New York lost
leading goal-scorer and point-getter Jason Blake, and Ryan Smyth --
who would've taken over as captain for the departed Alexei Yashin
had Smyth not bolted for Colorado.
Yashin, the previous face of the franchise, never produced
enough to justify his long, expensive contract. The Islanders cut
ties with him last month, buying him out of the deal and looking
again to reconstruct the team that made the playoffs four of the
past five seasons but hasn't won a series.
After a push to secure a playoff spot on the last day of the
season, the Islanders were eliminated by Buffalo in five games. It
was New York's third, five-game defeat in the first round, dating
"This is an organization with a wonderful history, with a
committed owner, a committed general manager, players who want to
be here and players who want to win," Guerin said. "That's what
we plan on doing. There's a long way to go, we've got a lot of work
in front of us, but we're going to do it together.
"We're going to play as a team."
Guerin, center Comrie and left winger Fedotenko likely will
comprise the Islanders' new top line.
Comrie and Guerin, who knew each other from their days with the
Oilers, spoke last week before signing. They weren't exactly a
package deal, but came as close to being one as possible.
Comrie, who scored 20 goals splitting time with Phoenix and
Eastern Conference champion Ottawa last season, is joining his
fifth team in five seasons. A former star, who fell out of favor
with the hometown Oilers, he is looking forward to the chance to be
a No. 1 center.
"Being 26, life is full of a lot of different opportunities,"
Comrie said. "The one-year contract gives me a year to prove
myself. They're going to give me a great opportunity to play some
minutes and play with some skilled players."
Sim was the first to sign, agreeing to a three-year, $3 million
deal around the departures of Blake and Smyth on Day 1. Fedotenko
followed on July 4 with a one-year contract for $2.9 million.
Comrie, who received a good review of the Islanders from Smyth,
signed a few hours after Guerin last Thursday, taking a one-year
deal worth $3.375 million.
That leaves the Islanders about $16 million under the $50.3
million salary cap.
"I am authorized to spend as much as it takes to bring a
Stanley Cup here," Snow said. "That being said, we're going to
make sure it's the right people at the right price."
The GM wouldn't comment about other potential free-agent
signings, but defenseman Sheldon Souray, who scored 26 goals with
Montreal last season, could be on the radar. Forward Trent Hunter
and defenseman Chris Campoli are restricted free agents, who
haven't re-signed yet with the Islanders.
They are set in goal, with Rick DiPietro under contract for the
next 14 seasons.
Snow was noncommittal whether the team would bring back
unrestricted free agent forward Arron Asham, who provided grit and
11 goals last season. His role could be filled by Sim, who scored
17 times with Atlanta.
"We have a lot of flexibility and we have a good team," he
said. "We prepared for different scenarios and this is one of
them. I'm just looking forward to adding the final pieces."