The first phase of the Vancouver Canucks’ search for new hockey leadership is over. They have hired longtime NHL executive Jim Rutherford as their president of hockey operations and interim general manager (GM). Stan Smyl held the role of interim GM for a total of four days and was the first-ever GM to have an undefeated record in Vancouver.
Since retiring from the NHL in 1983, Rutherford has served as GM or president of two franchises including the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and most recently the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has won three Stanley Cups as an executive and led the charge as GM/president of the Whalers/Hurricanes for an astounding 20 years. He won GM of the Year as part of the Penguins in 2009 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Builder in 2019.
Rutherford Brings Experience to the Canucks Front Office
On a team burgeoning with young talent in the front office in the form of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Ryan Johnson, the Canucks needed an experienced president of hockey operations to help mentor them. Rutherford is definitely the right choice to do this. Now comes the hard part, choosing a new GM. He will assume the duties on an interim basis, for now, but a new voice is coming and coming soon. According to Elliotte Friedman, he wants someone that he can mentor, so look for the choice to be of the young variety rather than an old beard.
Names like Laurence Gilman, John Ferguson Jr., Chris MacFarland, Scott Mellanby and Kevin Weekes are names that come to mind. Not all of them have been linked to the Canucks, but they are all progressive GMs that would be perfect fits under Rutherford. With his massive experience in the NHL and successful runs with the Penguins and Whalers/Hurricanes, it’s hard not to trust his judgement. So, the man he ultimately chooses will probably be the right choice for this team going forward.
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A new era for the Vancouver Canucks has begun in earnest as over the last few days they have hired a new head coach, a new president of hockey operations and in the very near future, a new GM. There have been no changes on the roster yet, but I’m sure that will come. As of right now, we don’t know what Rutherford’s vision for the team is. All I know is, it will be an interesting next few months as he evaluates all aspects of it.
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Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.