(source: CBS Sports)
At their Friday press conference the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that former Carolina Hurricanes GM, Jim Rutherford, would be filling the void left by the firing of Ray Shero.
The sixty-five year old Rutherford, is one of the most respected executives in the league, and held the general manager position with the Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise for 20 years.
“Jim has proven himself to be one of the finest executives in our sport, a man who always conducts himself with class and dignity, and we’re excited to bring him to Pittsburgh as our general manager,” Lemieux and Burkle said in a joint statement. “He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that few can match, and he will offer fresh ideas and a new perspective to our organization.”
The two years that his Carolina Hurricanes made it to the Stanley Cup finals (2002, 2006) he was named NHL’s Executive of the Year by the The Hockey News, and in 2006 by the Sporting News.
In Rutherford’s playing career, he spent thirteen seasons as a goaltender, some of that time being with the Penguins between 1971-1974.
“I’m excited by this opportunity to return to Pittsburgh and become general manager of a franchise that I’ve always admired,” Rutherford said. “To have the chance to work with Crosby and Malkin and the talented group of players assembled here is something that any GM would dream of. I’m looking forward to getting to work right away – it’s going to be an important summer.”
After his playing career, he joined the Compuware Sports Corporation as director of hockey operations in 1983. In that position he was the overseer of youth and junior hockey as well as being the general manager of the Windsor Spitfires. There he was named the Ontario Hockey League’s Executive of the Year in 1987 and 1988.
From there he went on to be the general manager of the NHL’s former Hartford Whalers on June 28, 1994, and he was a key component in the club’s transition to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1997.
It was a position he stepped down from after several less that stellar seasons for the Hurricanes. He was going to continue on assisting Ron Francis as an advisory general manager role, until this position arose. In Pittsburgh, he will also hold the title of executive vice president.
Jason Botteril, the interim general manager of the Penguins, will now have the title of associate general manager. Former Penguin Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald have now been named assistant general managers. This change was one of the first tasks on Jim Rutherford’s to-do list as new team GM.
“Jason is one of the top young executives in the NHL, and I’m pleased to promote him to the role of Associate General Manager,” Rutherford said. “Jason knows our organization top to bottom, including all players, prospects and staff, and his detailed understanding of the CBA and salary cap make him a major asset to the Penguins. I look forward to working with him closely.”