After skating with a pack of the Flyers’ core players for a week, Bill Guerin knew there was something about them that drew him to stay.
It wasn’t the facility, or that it is within a couple hours drive of his family’s home on Long Island, or that the roster is deep. The Flyers welcomed him - a player they have warred against in the Atlantic division for the past four seasons - without any question or hesitation.
“I’ve been in battle against these guys,” Guerin said. “You know what guys are like. You gain a lot of respect for guys that play that hard. I’ve had a lot of respect for the Flyers organization."
Entering training camp on a tryout is uncharted territory for Guerin, a 20-year veteran.
“This is a position I’ve never been in before in my career,” he said. “I’m confident in my abilities still. I know the birth certificate says almost 40 but I feel almost 25. I just want to go out and make this team and contribute, because I feel there’s a great chance to win here.”
That never hurts. Even without Mike Richards, Nikolai Zherdev and a healthy Chris Pronger in the locker room in early September, the two-time Cup winner knows this team is not far off from getting over the Stanley Cup hump for the first time since 1975.
“This team is extremely close [to winning],” Guerin said. “The big thing is that they have a lot of character in the room, to go along with their talent. Things have to go right. [But] the skill level is there, the commitment is there and the character is there.”
For now, while he is trying out, Guerin will either commute from his family's home or stay with his father-in-law in nearby Medford, N.J. Guerin said on Tuesday that he left Long Island at 5:45 a.m. and arrived at Voorhees with time to spare for practice.
In a few weeks time, the 39-year-old Guerin could be looking for a quasi-temporary place for the season. Then he would really feel at home.
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