One of his first moves as GM was to fire head coach Dan Bylsma. Bylsma won a franchise-record 252 games, leading the Penguins to the Stanley Cup championship in 2009. But since that title, the Penguins have gone 4-5 in postseason series. Each loss came to a lower-seeded team.
Rutherford, 65, was general manager of the Carolina/Hartford franchise for 20 years and led the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006. He stepped down from that position in April of this year. Rutherford replaces the fired Ray Shero.
“Jim has proven himself to be one of the finest executives in our sport, a man who always conducts himself with class and dignity, and we’re excited to bring him to Pittsburgh as our general manager,” Lemieux and Burkle said in a joint statement. “He has a wealth of knowledge and experience that few can match, and he will offer fresh ideas and a new perspective to our organization.”
Rutherford was named the NHL’s Executive of the Year by The Hockey News in 2002 and 2006 and by The Sporting News in 2006. Under his leadership, the Hurricanes made two trips to the Stanley Cup final, won the Eastern Conference championship in 2002 and 2006, reached the conference finals in 2009 and captured three division titles.
Rutherford played 13 seasons in the NHL as a goaltender, including parts of three seasons with the Penguins from 1971-74.
“I’m excited by this opportunity to return to Pittsburgh and become general manager of a franchise that I’ve always admired,” Rutherford said. “To have the chance to work with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the talented group of players assembled here is something that any GM would dream of. I’m looking forward to getting to work right away – it’s going to be an important summer.”
A native of Beeton, Ontario, Rutherford was a first-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1969 and played in the NHL from 1970-83 with Detroit, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Los Angeles. He appeared in 115 games with the Penguins, posting a 44-49-14 record and a 3.14 goals-against average.
Rutherford was named general manager of the NHL’s Hartford Whalers on June 28, 1994 and helped transition the club to Carolina in 1997. He also served as team president. Rutherford had been expected to continue in an advisory role with the Hurricanes until the Penguins opportunity arose.
In his new position with the Penguins, he will also have the title of executive vice president.
--WTAJ Sports/Penguins Media Relations
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