Bill Guerin stressed that success comes with a price.
"You don't win in this league unless the team comes first," said the new Wild general manager, who won two Stanley Cups as a player and two as an executive. "I'm going to put an emphasis on character, on commitment, on sacrifice. What are you going to do for this team to help it win?"
Those words rang true with Eric Staal.
"One hundred percent — that's how you win," said the Wild center. "There is no other way to do it. If you look at any championship team and teams who've had success, it's about sacrifice and it's about having everybody buy in collectively.
"If that doesn't excite you, you're in the wrong place."
Excitement was the general theme for a group of Wild players that gathered in the Xcel Energy Center lobby to watch Thursday's news conference. Guerin, 48, spent the past five years as a successful assistant GM for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He takes over for Paul Fenton, who was fired July 30 after one less-than-successful season — both on and off the ice.
The change at the top, players indicated, is refreshing.
"Just his reputation as a player and part of management and as a person, we're proud to call him our leader," Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. "Very excited for him to get started."
Added defenseman Jared Spurgeon: "Just hearing how confident he is in the way he's thinking is going to be good for us."
Guerin will try to turn around a franchise that missed the playoffs last season for the first time in seven years. Hampered by season-ending injuries to Koivu and high-scoring defenseman Matt Dumba, the Wild struggled to a 37-36-9 record, seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The team couldn't score consistently — its 2.56 goals per game ranked 27th in the NHL — and was shut out 11 times.
With 429 goals and 856 points during an 18-year NHL career, Guerin brings clout as a decorated player. The fact that he helped guide the Penguins to two Stanley Cup triumphs as assistant GM in 2016 and '17 bolsters his reputation as a team builder.
"Someone who has played as long as he has and has won championships in the role he's been in definitely adds another level of respect and confidence in what he can do," Staal said. "Also, the fact that he gets it. He gets it as a former player as far as what we deal with on a daily basis."
"For him, it helps when you've been around the game, you still know the players and the pace of the game," said Koivu, 36, who is coming off a torn ACL and is entering the final year of his contract. "But at the end, you still have to earn that [respect], and I'm sure he's aware of that."
Spurgeon, entering the final year of his contract, said he and his representation will wait and see on negotiations with Guerin. He did, however, express confidence in the new GM.
"We haven't won yet, and he's seen it from both sides," Spurgeon said. "To do that, he's going to teach us a lot. He's got a lot of experience from the players' side and in the front office.
"When he's talking, you're listening."