Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford announced his resignation Wednesday, citing personal reasons.
The Penguins will turn to assistant general manager Patrik Allvin in the meantime, but the search for a general manager will begin immediately.
“It has been a great honor to serve as general manager of the Penguins, and to hang two more Stanley Cup banners at PPG Paints Arena,” Rutherford said in a statement. “There always has been so much support from everyone involved with the Penguins, both on the hockey and business staffs, and, of course, from a special group of players led by Sidney Crosby. The fans here have been tremendous to me and my family. I know it’s a little unusual to have this happen during a season, but just felt this was the right time to step away.”
Rutherford spoke with team president and CEO David Morehouse Tuesday and said he had made his decision. The same decision stood when they met again Wednesday morning.
“It’s a personal decision that Jim made,” Morehouse said. “I think that says what you need to know. It’s personal. Shocking? I’m not sure ‘shocking’ is the right word. I think he’s accomplished a lot here. I think he still has things he wants to do.”
The Penguins are currently 4-2-1 ahead of Thursday’s game against the Boston Bruins.
Rutherford has kind of been down this road before. Following the 2013-2014 season, he stepped down as general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes and stated plans to retire. That barely lasted two months before he was hired by the Penguins as the successor to Ray Shero.
Under Rutherford’s watch, Pittsburgh won two Stanley Cups and made the playoffs in each of his six seasons.
The general manager kept his core intact and built by addition, bringing Patric Hornqvist into the fold in a trade with Nashville in June of 2014. There were other names throughout his tenure, including Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Carl Hagelin, Ian Cole, Justin Schultz, and more.
Now, the Penguins are looking to start the next chapter in the journey. Morehouse insists his hockey club is in “win-now mode” and that won’t change any time soon. The core group is capable, but there are questions and tasks ahead. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are getting older, at least in hockey years, and Malkin needs a new deal after next season.
“We think the team Jim put on the ice is a team that can compete and win,” Morehouse said. “We think our coaching staff is a coaching staff that can get them there.”
Pic: Associated Press/Gene J. Puskar