It’s not every day a general manager steps down from his position in the NHL, and certainly not just seven games into a season with a 4-2-1 record.
Jim Rutherford’s decision to resign as GM of the Penguins on Wednesday shocked the hockey world. In his seventh season with the team, and after two Stanley Cup wins, the news was sudden and, given the times, concerning.
CEO David Morehouse made it clear on his media availability, though, that the decision was not health-related and happened fast.
“The discussion was last night,” Morehouse said about how long this was in the works. “I had a discussion with Jim, just Jim and I. Jim had his mind made up.
“There was nothing with this team currently or the coaching staff currently configured that is any different than any of the other teams we’ve had…There was nothing different in the form of dialogue. And I don’t think there was any one thing that led to Jim resigning.”
After the 2013-14 season, Rutherford stepped down from his position as Carolina Hurricanes GM and into a retirement that lasted no more than two months before he joined the Penguins.
He arrived at an interesting time, too. Dan Bylsma was relieved as head coach and the Penguins, still led by a similar core to what you see today, were seemingly at a crossroads. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang — all of their stars were still in their prime, but rather than become a New York Islanders-esque dynasty that won Cup after Cup or was at least right there every season, they had won four playoff rounds in the previous five seasons. The furthest they advanced in that time was to the Eastern Conference Final, where the Boston Bruins rolled over them in four games.
Malkin became no stranger to the off-season trade rumour talk. Whether or not the Penguins should take a step back to retool around Crosby was a debated point.
Rutherford, though, doubled down on his star core and began adding. Patric Hornqvist was his first trade acquisition and mid-way through his first season David Perron was picked up from the Edmonton Oilers for a first-round pick. Rutherford made four more trades around deadline season with an eye on playoff depth, the most notable pickup being Ian Cole.
Rutherford’s first playoff run with the Penguins ended with a single win, but they were about to be fully back.
Phil Kessel was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2015 off-season, and in Pittsburgh, he thrived as a supporting scorer instead of the go-to star. Nick Bonino was next, and mid-way through his second season, Rutherford acquired Carl Hagelin. Suddenly the HBK line (Hagelin-Bonino-Kessel) was in the house. The three finished first, fourth and fifth in team scoring during that 2016 playoff run, and were a key part in the Penguins reclaiming the Stanley Cup.
Then they repeated the next season.
Nuts to the idea of rebuilding a star-heavy team.
As Rutherford departs six-and-a-half years later, the Penguins are interestingly in a similar spot to when he first arrived, though a few years older. They haven’t gotten out of the second round since claiming the 2017 Cup and actually haven’t technically won a game in a playoff round in either of the past two years. They were swept by the Islanders in 2019 and lost in the qualifying round, 3-1, to the Montreal Canadiens in the summer bubble.
Crosby and Letang are 33. Malkin is 34. There isn’t a seemingly endless amount of time left for these players anymore. After next season, Malkin will need a new contract, if he doesn’t test free agency. And if the Penguins are fading from contention again, at this stage, will a move to a new GM spur some sort of re-tool, an adjustment that may result in a step back if it means giving Crosby and Co. a better stretch run?
Don’t count on it.
“We’re not in rebuilding mode,” Morehouse said. “We’re in a win-now mode and we’re going to continue to be in that mode until we’re in a rebuilding mode. We’re looking for someone who can come in and have us continue to work toward winning another Cup.
“The criteria (for a new GM) is the same criteria we’ve had here for the last almost 15 years, is to win the Stanley Cup. We’re looking for someone that’s going to be able to come in, take a very talented team with a very good coaching staff, and take it as far as they can take it.”
Patrik Allvin, who has worked his way up from European scout, to director of European scouting, and to assistant GM with Pittsburgh this season, will carry the interim label and, according to Morehouse, will be one of the candidates considered for the full-time job.
Morehouse did not put a timeline on when the next GM would be hired, but noted he had already taken calls.
With the 2021 Penguins off to a decent start, there are still potential cracks in the foundation. Tristan Jarry has struggled without Matt Murray to share the crease, Malkin is not feeling it yet (three points in seven games) and the offence ranks 22nd in 5-on-5 shots per 60 minutes.
There are the recent playoff shortfalls, the fact the team has made one first-round pick in the past six years. And they already don’t have their own first pick in the 2021 draft.
But there’s also the optimism that comes with having players like Crosby and Malkin on your team, and how Jake Guentzel has developed into a significant producer, or how Bryan Rust has carved out a nice role for himself in the top six.
“We think the team Jim put on the ice is a team that can compete and win,” Morehouse said. “We think our coaching staff is a coaching staff that can get them there.”
Whoever the next GM is will be tasked with the same expectations faced by a Hall of Famer nearly seven years ago, with a younger roster that had more runway. The Penguins rebuild will eventually arrive, but it seems when it does, it won’t be because they chose it.
Canada takes on Slovakia as World Juniors continue on TSN – TSN
Team Canada has had its first taste of summer hockey at the World Junior Championship and will continue the quest for gold tonight against Slovakia.
Watch Canada vs. Slovakia at 6 p.m. ET on TSN4, TSN.ca and the TSN App. TSN’s coverage of Thursday’s games at the tournament begins at 2 p.m. ET with Finland facing Czechia.
Connor Bedard, a top prospect for the 2023 NHL draft, opened the scoring for Canada (1-0-0) and added an assist in a 5-2 win over Latvia (0-0-2) on Wednesday.
Sebastian Cossa got the start in net and made 22 saves for a Canadian squad quickly looking to build chemistry in Edmonton.
Canada’s head coach Dave Cameron said prior to the game he wanted to see “disciplined 200-foot hockey” and that the effort against Latvia was pretty much what he expected.
“It’s early, this is really only our second game, so you knew it was going to come in ebbs and flows,” said Cameron. “I like that we stuck with it and found a way to get that fifth goal which was huge and took a little bit of that pressure off towards the end of the game.”
Canada has reached the podium in four of the past five tournaments, including gold medals in 2018 and 2020. Canada last won gold on home soil in 2015.
Cameron was quick to say that getting prepared to play hockey in August is not an issue.
“Not a chance, it’s what I do,” said Cameron. “I’ve done summer tournaments before … hockey’s hockey.
“It doesn’t matter the environment, the city, the number of people in the stands, anything like that. We’re hockey people and when that puck drops – game on.”
Slovakia (0-0-1), which features another top 2023 draft prospect in centre Dalibor Dvorsky, fell 5-4 to Czechia in their first match of the tournament on Tuesday.
TSN’s Mark Masters reports that Dylan Garand is expected to start against Slovakia.
Riley Kidney and Carson Lambos are projected to be scratches, while Brennan Othmann and Ethan Del Mastro will draw in for Canada.
Tom Brady Steps Aside From The Buccaneers: Details – HotNewHipHop
Tom Brady is one of the best players in the entire NFL, and this season, he is looking to win his eighth Super Bowl title. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking good right now, and there is a real sense that they will win the NFC South, once again.
Unfortunately, Brady has had to put a halt to his training camp efforts as he is dealing with a personal matter. According to Ian Rapaport, Brady was not at practice today due to the issue and it seems like he won’t be returning to the field until after the team’s upcoming preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, which is set to take place on August 20th.
Brady is one of the oldest quarterbacks in the history of the league, and it is nothing short of impressive that he is still performing at such a high level. Many pundits believe the Buccaneers are favorites to win it all, yet again, although they will have to prove themselves following a disappointing end to the season in 2022.
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images for The Match
This is a developing story so stay tuned to HNHH for all of the latest news and updates.
Watch Live: Oilers pay tribute to Ben Stelter – Sportsnet.ca
Ben Stelter was an inspiration to many in the sports world and beyond.
Two months before his fifth birthday, Stelter was diagnosed with glioblastoma — a form of brain cancer. After meeting the Edmonton Oilers, he quickly became a motivation for the team during their run to the Western Conference Final.
Stelter died at the age six, his father had announced Wednesday.
The Oilers will speak publicly starting at around 12:30 p.m. ET, and their comments can be seen in their entirety on Sportsnet through the video player atop this page.
Note: This live stream has ended.
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