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Pittsburgh’s Hiring Of GM Jim Rutherford

On Friday the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Jim Rutherford would be their next general manager.  He takes over from recently fired Ray Shero.  Shero was a very good GM who was jettisoned because Pittsburgh lost in the playoffs.  The problem was Penguins ownership had no idea what to do next and that is clear from the Rutherford hiring. 

Jim Rutherford is a 65 year old who was the Hartford Whaler/ Carolina Hurricane GM from 1994 until earlier this year when he stepped aside to let Ron Francis take over.  At that point it was presumed he was retiring.  The highlight of his run as GM was winning the 2006 Stanley Cup.  That success was the exception rather than the rule under Rutherford.  In twenty years the team's record was 571 wins, 698 losses and 20 ties.  He had 167 regulation tie points over that time.  That record is well below .500.  A Rutherford team was usually a losing team.  They never were the worst team in the league and sometimes were above average but it is not a spectacular record.  Rutherford appears to be a competent NHL GM but well below the best in the game.  As he went into retirement it looked like there would be no desire for another team to give him a run.

The hope is that Rutherford will guide the ship until a younger man in the Pittsburgh organization is ready to take over.  Jason Boterill, Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald are hopefully his replacements.  They are associate and assistant general managers in the organization today. 

A much more coherent plan would be to keep Ray Shero as GM and perhaps replace him if any of these younger candidates ever become ready.  Jim Rutherford is at best a stop gap to buy some time.  That wasn't needed with Ray Shero in the organization.  This is a step down in the quality of their general manager.  Pittsburgh made a mistake in firing Ray Shero as their general manager.  The fact they replaced him with a recently stepped down (and presumed retiring) GM shows this.  The fact they are already talking about who they hope replaces Rutherford shows it.  This move does not bode well for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Comments

awould's avatar

I agree that it seems apparent the owner’s didn’t have a great plan moving forward, and it sounds like a lot of it was pulling more control back from the GM, whoever it is, which isn’t a good sign if you’re a Pens fan. I also tend to agree that Rutherford is the wrong guy.

I think the entire premise of having a figurehead/lame duck GM who has already said he only will have 2-3 years on the job is a bad idea when big moves might need to be made. You’re going to leave it to a temp to make these decisions?

The hope is that Rutherford will guide the ship until a younger man in the Pittsburgh organization is ready to take over.  Jason Boterill, Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald are hopefully his replacements. 

This is pretty much what they said is the plan. So, if that’s the plan, which I think is a stupid plan (and it seems you do too)...

A much more coherent plan would be to keep Ray Shero as GM and perhaps replace him if any of these younger candidates ever become ready.

I don’t agree with this. My guess is the owners wanted an experienced hockey guy who might have different things to impart to the future replacement. (Maybe more so, an old lame duck who the owners could control) A new mentor, basically. Keeping Shero to continue training this group in the very ways that got him fired is not coherent and makes no sense if the plan is to take the team in a new/different direction.

The Pens are in a tight spot, capwise, and that’s on Shero. He was not shy about making a splash. I always felt like he ran the team like a Ponzi scheme, always needing to make a new move to cover for his last. I think it caught up to him. Also, he inherited a team with amazing talent and hasn’t done much with it since. Yes they won a Cup, but that wasn’t a lot to do w/ Shero. His drafting has been bad. He made a couple of trades, but really that just solidified their top two lines and left no depth.

I think the future for the Penguins lies in trading Malkin. I think they should’ve hired a GM who might be able to stick around for a long time. The situation is a mess. I’m not unhappy about that.

Posted by awould on 06/10/14 at 10:02 PM ET

awould's avatar

To simplify…. they fired Shero and hired Rutherford so the ownership would have control over the big moves they’re going to need to make in the next year or two. Keeping Shero around made that impossible.

Posted by awould on 06/10/14 at 10:52 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

awould, my thoughts exactly.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 06/10/14 at 11:19 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

The proven way to win in the NHL as an owner is to find a good hockey man and make him GM then get out of his way.  Pittsburgh is not following that plan.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 06/10/14 at 11:52 PM ET

awould's avatar

That is true. They are not. Meddling ownership is rarely good for any sports team.

Posted by awould on 06/11/14 at 12:23 AM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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