Jim Rutherford Resigns: Remembering The GMJR Era With The Pittsburgh Penguins
|Photo Credit: NHL.com|
If there was any GM that was capable of shocking us in this way, it was going to be Jim Rutherford. After shocking the hockey world by resigning Wednesday morning as the GM for the Pittsburgh Penguins, it sent everyone in a frenzy trying to figure out what happened.
Was it health related? Was it for the team’s performance, with him deciding to run onto his own sword as opposed to get the axe from the organization? Or was it something different that we don’t know about?
All signs point to it not being health related, so that’s a positive, but still news that Rutherford resigning was a lot to digest.
So now that it’s over, what to think of Rutherford’s tenure as the Penguins’ General Manager?
Rutherford didn’t waste anytime coming to Pittsburgh, trading away James Neal for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling in his first offseason before eventually making a bigger splash in getting Phil Kessel the following year.
And he would spend the rest of his time here in Pittsburgh like that, never gun-shy about making a trade if he thought it would help the team in their quest to add as many championships as possible during the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era.
He also wasn’t afraid to throw out big contracts if it meant closing on a free agent he liked (enter the Jack Johnson deal, even Brandon Tanev when it was signed).
Rutherford was also quick to fix a mistake when he saw it.
He traded a first round pick for Ryan Reeves before trading him that same season. He signed Matt Hunwick before dumping him and Conor Sheary on the Buffalo Sabres.
Trying to spice things up on a struggling team, he traded Carl Hagelin - who he acquired in fixing his trade for David Perron - in exchange for Tanner Pearson. But after Pearson struggled to adjust with the Penguins, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Erik Gudbranson.
You could go on and on about every little trade and move he made which would go on for a very long time but that’s not the point here.
Rutherford helped build two Stanley Cup Champion teams and accomplished an even rarer fate - winning on consecutive years. He also became just the second general manager in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup with two different franchises.
We’re some of his trades bad? Certainly. You won’t find a GM that doesn’t have a bad trade on his resume.
Are the Penguins in trouble once Crosby and Malkin aren’t elite superstars? Certainly, but that’s also the case with most organizations who had a generational talent.
Did some of his trades to ‘erase’ a previous mistake cost the team too much? Yea you could probably say that.
He also wasn’t shy in getting Kessel, and then got Pierre-Olivier Joseph in return when the former clearly wanted out of Pittsburgh. Joseph is just 21 but his early reviews have been strong since being calling up.
The Hagelin trade won’t be one of the first moves talked about, but it should be. The Swede was just the kind of player the Penguins needed and he was a vital piece to the roster right up being traded himself.
This is also the guy who got Justin Schultz for a third round pick, another key piece in the Cup runs. He later fleeced the Edmonton Oilers once more in getting John Marino for a sixth round pick.
He traded Daniel Sprong, a super talented player that just wasn’t going to work out in Pittsburgh, and got a top-four defenseman in return.
It’s easy to point out the bad that Rutherford had done, mainly due to when he got it wrong, he got it really wrong.
But he never let those misses shy him away from making a move that he felt was needed.
I can certainly respect that, and the fan part of me certainly thanks him for that.
Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last we see as Rutherford as a general manager and after the time he is taking off is over he finds a new team.
The offseason and trade deadline are certainly much more entertaining with him involved.
If this is it for him, then best of luck to everything Jim, thanks for all of the memories.
How will you remember Rutherford’s tenure in Pittsburgh? Who might replace him? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link at the top of the page and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.