Welcome to Pittsburgh Penguins News & Rumors, where we cover all the hot topics about the club and dive into more than just box scores. Get ready for some rapid-fire headlines that will run us through all the noise surrounding Pittsburgh’s beloved Penguins.
Jim Rutherford Lands in Vancouver
When Jim Rutherford left his position as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it threw everyone for a loop. Speculation was blowing hot off the press that there was a rift between the executive and ownership and everyone seemed to point at trading Kris Letang. Even months after his resignation, Rutherford was getting asked if he wasn’t happy because of a move he was unable to make. As per usual, he handled it all with class and never gave away too much information, or threw anyone under the bus. Well, earlier this week the Hockey Hall of Famer is now the president of hockey operations and interim general manager of the Vancouver Canucks.
It makes a ton of sense for Rutherford to head to the Canucks as they recently hired one of his best buddies, Bruce Boudreau, to be their head coach. The two have been friends for decades, dating back to their time together playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rutherford was pretty clear when he left the Penguins, he was only going to put his name in the hat for vacant positions and didn’t want to take anyone’s job. Once the Canucks confirmed they wanted a two-headed monster to lead their management group, it became clear the president position made sense.
The Canucks can expect a general manager who loves to make bold moves, trades and signings, and isn’t shy to re-acquire players. Just ask Kasperi Kapanen. What this move does for the Penguins, though, is it opens up a potential trade partner as Rutherford knows the organization very well and may have a player or two he would love to add in Vancouver.
Some Canucks to keep an eye on for trade include backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak, physical defenseman Luke Schenn — who Brian Burke loves — and rugged winger Tyler Motte. Don’t expect any of Vancouver’s stars to be available until the summer, and if the team doesn’t make the playoffs, Rutherford won’t be shy to make some headlines.
Penguins Defenseman Creeping Closer to Milestone
All eyes are on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang as the team visits the Washington Capitals on Friday night. The 34-year-old veteran is approaching 600 career points. He’s currently sitting at 599 and can become only the 43rd defenseman in NHL history to reach the milestone.
While he only has one goal so far in 2021-22, Letang has been great for Pittsburgh, currently sitting with 17 points in 21 games and leading the team in average ice time by a country mile. There’s no doubt about it — Letang is the No. 1 defenseman in Pittsburgh and the pending free agent isn’t going anywhere. Expect to see him sign a contract extension at some point and finish his career where it all began. Congrats to him, as if he doesn’t hit the mark against the Capitals, he’ll get another shot Saturday night at home against the Anaheim Ducks.
Huge Congrats in Order for Marc-Andre Fleury
On Thursday night in Montreal, Chicago Blackhawks netminder and Penguins great Marc-Andre Fleury reached his 500th career win. It total “Flower” fashion, it was a 40-save shutout against the Montreal Canadiens, with a bunch of family and friends in attendance.
Fleury joins an exclusive cast including both his idols Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy as the only NHL goaltenders to reach 500 career wins. Brodeur sits with 691 and Roy left the game after 551 wins. This number may be within reach for Fleury who was floored with the response from the Montreal faithful.
It’s great to see Fleury turn things around in Chicago after a very shaky start and let’s hope he can continue his strong performance this season — every game other than against the Penguins, of course. As far as the trade talks about heading back to Pittsburgh, while I vouched for it last summer, it truly seems like that ship has sailed. Next summer when he’s a free agent, maybe, but that’s a story for another day.
That does it for another segment of Penguins News & Rumors. The response has been great so far, so I certainly appreciate the love. Enjoy the games against the Capitals and Ducks and we’ll catch up next week, likely after Rutherford has already shipped someone out in Vancouver and Letang makes NHL history.
Latest News & Highlights
Shane’s been a part of The Hockey Writers team since 2020, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor, his versatile perspective on game results and everything off the ice produces diverse content. You can also find him on the Maple Leafs Lounge podcast with Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween