Jim Rutherford named GM of Pittsburgh Penguins; coach Dan Bylsma fired
Rutherford's name surfaced as a possible candidate earlier this week. He resigned from his position in Carolina in late-April, but was expected to remain with the Hurricanes organization in the role of team president. That he would abandon that job so quickly for another GM position makes it fair to ask whether he vacated his old 'Canes spot willingly or was pressed by ownership to turn it over to assistant Ron Francis after the team failed to make the playoffs.
In fact, it's that failure to create a consistent postseason presence that makes Rutherford such an unexpected hire. His teams made two trips to the Stanley Cup Final, winning it all in 2006, but earned a playoff berth just three other times during his 20-season stewardship, including just once in the past eight years. Not exactly the sort of track record that will have Penguins fans planning a parade route for next spring.
Rutherford's first order of business was to decide the fate of coach Dan Bylsma. It was expected that whoever earned the GM position would let the Stanley Cup-winner go. Louis Jean of TVA reported that a source had confirmed that Bylsma's job was not safe so the change behind the bench was not unexpected. No word on a possible replacement just yet, but Bylsma's stay on the unemployment line won't be long. It's expected that he'll be snapped up immediately by Florida if he is interested.
This won't be Rutherford's first swim through Pittsburgh. He manned the pipes for the Pens from 1971-73, going 44-49-14 with a 3.14 goals against average and four shutouts.