The Pittsburgh Penguins hired GM Jim Rutherford to rebuild the roster and attempt to chase another Stanley Cup. However, the Cup is once again proving to be elusive and the Penguins likely will not hoist it this season. Rutherford’s tenure has been rocky, and after the Penguins 2-1 loss last night the veteran GM lost his cool.
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review sports writer Rob Rossi has always been critical of Rutherford ever since his arrival. Many of Rossi’s articles were quick to assume everything was ruined and often was out seeking major headlines.
For the first time in a while, Rossi absolutely nailed it in his latest column. Not only are the Penguins falling apart, but it appears Rutherford is as well.
From all reports, the former NHL goaltender has not dealt very well with all of the pressure and media attention he has found in Pittsburgh.
It’s unfair to expect Rutherford to be ready for the barrage of Pittsburgh media when he came up from the Carolina Hurricanes who have been stuck in mediocrity for years and the media weren’t active. In Pittsburgh, the narrative is much different and why shouldn’t it be?
From the span of 2003 to 2006 the Penguins either had the first overall pick or the second. They used those selections to bring goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal to the team. Those four names are some of the top players in the entire NHL at their respective positions. Staal wasn’t on the roster when Rutherford took over, but that is beside the point.
The Penguins have had some of the best players in all of the NHL and it goes beyond the first round. They found gems like Letang, Alex Goligoski, Matt Moulson, Maxime Talbot, Rob Scuderi and the list continues.
It’s the pattern that the Penguins have been considered capable of creating a dynasty with their star talent and willingness to trade and make adjustments. Yet they have a single Stanley Cup to show for it.
It’s quite a disappointment and something that should be blamed on former GM Ray Shero, coach Dan Byslma and now Rutherford.
When you have all the talent in the world and virtually nothing to show for it, there is a good reason why the media is so critical.
Rutherford’s signings and trades have backfired and he mismanaged the salary cap, so much so that the Penguins had to play stretches with only five defenders. A franchise that usually was within the top-four finishes in the regular season play is now the 8th overall seed and had to win their last game just to make the playoffs.
If this is Rutherford’s dream, I don’t want to be a part of it. Bring back Shero; at least with him the Penguins were consistent.
Last night after the 2-1 loss Rutherford spoke with Rossi of the Tribune Review and had this to say.
“Thanks for your support” Rutherford repeatedly said. Later on he said “You’re a (Expletive jerk)” multiple times and followed up the comment by telling Rossi to “go sell ice cream now.”
Rossi responded by saying “my role is to provide opinion.”
Rutherford’s response “Well, your opinion is (expletive).”
(Bold added for emphasis)
Rossi’s vision for rebuilding the Penguins differs from most, but sadly he is right.
Rutherford has botched the rebuilding of the Pens.
As a GM in the NHL, Rutherford cannot go on rants like this blasting reporters. Maybe this was his frustration boiling over, but he’s a professional and this rant was outright uncalled for.
When he took the job in Pittsburgh he should have known what was coming. His every move will be scrutinized by everyone from fans, to bloggers, to reporters. He has failed the Penguins and deserves the criticism he has received.