Jim Rutherford choosing to step down as the Pittsburgh Penguins general manager on Wednesday caught a number of people, including the now-interim GM by surprise. Early reports were that Rutherford’s departure was not a health issue, which is good news. Still, his unexpected decision to leave creates a fairly big problem for the Penguins to solve.
For now, the Penguins will go with a first-ever Swedish-born GM in Patrik Allvin. A big congratulations goes out to Allvin who said, “I’m excited for this new opportunity with the Penguins, but I would not be in this position were it not for Jim’s faith in me over these past seven years.” There is a window of opportunity to impress here but Allvin is well aware that he’ll be one of just a few names in the mix for the job.
Allvin discussed his surprise to hear that Rutherford was stepping down and that he’d be stepping in. But, he’s keen to get right to work. He noted that moving forward, he wanted everyone to know – from the ownership to the fans – that he was committed to “doing the best job possible for the Penguins, building on our strong start to the season.”
Who Are the Next GM Candidates?
Sean Gentille of The Athletic has already looked at some names that could be in the running to replace Rutherford. He broke the more-than 15 candidates into four categories.
He noted there were some who had connections to Mario Lemieux, while others were a lot like Rutherford in the way they managed and built their teams. Some were younger GMs with a strong reputation, while some were more analytic.
Below were his four different groups and the names in each:
- Mario Lemieux Connections – Pat Brisson, Tom Fitzgerald, Pierre McGuire, Marc Bergevin, and Jason Botterill.
- The Rutherford Types – Ron Hextall, Peter Chiarelli, Dean Lombardi and Mike Gillis.
- Up and comers – Patrik Allvin, Chris Drury, Chris MacFarland and Kevin Weekes.
- The Bill Zito Tier – Laurence Gilman, Mike Futa and Scott Mellanby.
Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse talked about who might get consideration and how the team would begin to narrow down the field:
“The criteria is the same criteria we’ve had here for the last 15 years: To win the Stanley Cup. So we’re looking for someone that is gonna be able to come in, take a very talented team with a very good coaching staff and take it as far as they can take it.”
What’s Next for Rutherford?
TSN’s Frank Seravalli notes that Rutherford and the Penguins are still on good terms but that his connection to the organization is probably over. That said, Bob McKenzie reported that Rutherford is not necessarily gone from hockey for good.
Ken Campbell of the Hockey News said he spoke with Rutherford who told him it was simply “time to take it easy”. He’ll use the rest of the season to decide his future and whether or not he’ll return to the NHL with a different organization.
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