Last week we shared the news that ex-Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is refreshed after his month away from the league and now wants back in the NHL. The long-time executive resigned from his position for personal reasons, and after his shocking announcement, rumors circulated why he was leaving. The theory about Rutherford wanting to trade Kris Letang? It turns out that one was false.
Rutherford was a recent guest on the ‘Cam and Strick Podcast’ with NHL alum Cam Janssen and longtime reporter Andy Strickland, and the two hosts didn’t back away from the elephant in the room. They were direct in asking about the Letang trade rumors and respect to Rutherford for not shying away from the topic.
Rutherford mentioned that Letang, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin all have the right to retire as Penguins after bringing the franchise three Stanley Cups. In the full interview found below, he also discussed Marc-Andre Fleury getting away, Phil Kessel being misunderstood, how the conversation got heated before his official resignation and how he may have lost his cool leading up to his goodbye.
Details Limited on Rutherford’s Resignation
We may never know what Rutherford’s “personal reasons” were for leaving, and that’s ok, as they’re personal, but it does leave the window open for speculation. If he wasn’t interested in trading any of the big-three, perhaps he was looking to make another controversial move that ownership wanted no part? Perhaps, he was having second thoughts on his Tristan Jarry contract extension and was looking for another netminder? Maybe one day, he will offer an exclusive interview and open up about the matter.
Back to the trade rumor. Rutherford ‘came clean’ and squashed that noise which was probably music to Letang’s ears. Trade rumors can wear on a player, especially when they’re as magnified as they were in Pittsburgh. The idea that Rutherford left because he couldn’t pull the trigger on a Letang deal spread like wildfire.
We all saw what it meant to Crosby during his 1000th game that Letang and Malkin were so involved in the ceremony, and Crosby spoke after the game about his love for his long-time teammates and the grind the three of them have been through together.
Help Is On the Way for the Penguins
As for the Penguins, the ‘come-back kids’ continue to fall behind early and win hockey games, and their roster is starting to get healthier. Defenseman Brian Dumoulin is practicing with the team and is close to returning. He will help shore up the backend with his poise and experience on defense. The 29-year-old Penguins veteran is one of the smartest players in the league, and his ability to be positionally sound is a coach’s dream.
While Crosby landed on the COVID protocol list, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has the virus, and word is, he should be back with the team ‘sooner than later.’ The Penguins are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, with another big matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night. Tuesday’s contest saw Kasperi Kapanen almost score a natural hat-trick in the Pens’ 5-2 victory, and he was named the game’s first star.
Back to Rutherford. The Hall of Fame executive won’t have to wait long before he’s hired back into the NHL. Some potential landing spots include the Vancouver Canucks, Carolina Hurricanes and Seattle Kraken. As one of the most respected executives in the league, Rutherford’s next position won’t necessarily be as a general manager. Look for him to be open to many different roles, including Senior Advisor or a President of Hockey Operations.
We know he likes to do things his way, and you can’t fault Rutherford for that one bit. We also now know Letang was never going to be traded, and we can officially put that rumor to bed.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor to the THW family, his passion and unique perspective on the game results in some diverse content. Certainly versatile, you can find Seney also contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween