Rutherford stepped down as GM of the Hurricanes in April, with Ron Francis (a former Penguins star) replacing him. He’s 65 years old and spent two decades at the helm in Carolina and before that Hartford. He built one Stanley Cup champion and another conference champion, but Carolina hadn’t made the playoffs since 2009.
The Penguins had been interviewing a slew of candidates in the last few weeks, but a field of four emerged as finalists: Rutherford, NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire, interim GM Jason Botterill and Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Julien BriseBois.
Why Rutherford? He’s a proven commodity, for one, while the others haven’t had the big chair before. And if there’s anything about Carolina’s teams for which Penguins fans might cast an envious eye, it’s that they have the pain-in-the-backside tenacity at forward that the Penguins lacked in the lower six in a significant way.
One can also see some shared dogma between Rutherford and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux. He championed rules that allowed stars like Mario to shine without obstruction. Like Shero, he's an anti-fighting guy. He would seem like a guy ownership would like to have around.
The four main questions this hire sparks:
1. What happens to Dan Bylsma? He was retained as Shero was fired, leaving his fate in limbo as coaching openings were filled.
2. What happens with Rutherford’s ownership stake in the Hurricanes? Chip Alexander of the News and Observer reports that Carolina owners Peter Karmanos "will discuss with NHL finance committee next week." Karmanos will become the Hurricanes team president as well.
3. Is he just a short-term caretaker? Rutherford is 65. This would seem like a stopgap because the Penguins weren't ready to hand the keys to Botterill.
4. How will fans receive the move? Rutherford’s teams haven’t been winners for five years, and he pulled the trigger on the Jordan Staal trade with the Penguins in 2012. His prospect pool -- and don't forget that Shero's drafting has been criticized -- was rather shallow in Carolina.That’s what they know about him.
But they also know he's not Pierre McGuire, so...
We’ll learn more at the press conference today.