Three-time Stanley Cup champion Jim Rutherford has been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builders’ category.
Rutherford built the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup championship team as well as the 2016 and 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup teams.
Rutherford overhauled the Penguins roster from the first moments he took the Penguins job in the summer of 2014. He dealt James Neal for stalwart Patric Hornqvist and eventually added players such as Trevor Daley, Carl Hagelin, Phil Kessel, and Nick Bonino.
Rutherford joined the Penguins after guiding the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise for 20 years, from 1994-2014.
The Penguins team release included a quote from team President David Morehouse.
“We’ve always thought of Jim Rutherford as a Hall of Fame general manager and builder, and today’s announcement that he will formally be inducted into the Hall is richly deserved,” said David Morehouse, president, and CEO of the Penguins. “He has ties to the Penguins dating back to his playing days in the 1970s, and his impact on the franchise as our GM, in leading us to back-to-back Stanley Cups, has been exceptional. In addition to his Hall of Fame credentials, Jim is a down-to-earth, honest, straight-talking guy who does his job every day with class and dignity. We know we are very lucky to have him as part of the Penguins organization.”
As a player, Rutherford was the Penguins goalie from 1971-1973.
Rutherford, 70, is the fourth active GM with three Stanley Cup titles but the only one to do so with multiple organizations. Stan Bowman in Chicago, Ken Holland won three in Detroit, and fellow Hall of Famer Lou Lamoriello won three Cups with the Devils.
Rutherford’s 2002 Carolina Hurricanes won the Eastern Conference but were defeated by one of the great teams of the modern era, the Hall of Famer heavy Detroit Red Wings.
Also per the Penguins release:
Known throughout hockey circles as one of the fairest and most-willing wheelers-and-dealers, Rutherford swung deals to add veterans Mark Recchi and Doug Weight to his 2006 Cup-winning squad in Carolina, moves that put his club over the top in eventually beating the Edmonton Oilers in a seven-game series in the Cup Final.
While at the helm of the Hurricanes, Rutherford ran both the hockey operations and business sides of the organization. He won The Hockey News’ ‘Executive of the Year’ in 2002 and ’06, and he was voted by his peers as Sporting News’ ‘Executive of the Year’ in ’06.
Rutherford has recently come under fire from the Penguins online community for free agent signings and trade acquisitions which don’t fit the 2016 championship model, notably Jack Johnson and Erik Gudbranson. And the celebrated Derick Brassard acquisition at the 2018 trade deadline did not pan out.
However, the Penguins run of 13 straight playoff appearances remains intact as Rutherford attempts to freshen up the roster for next season.
Rutherford is the 17th player or builder with Penguins ties to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame and the second GM. Craig Patrick was elected in 2001.
Sergei Zubov became the 18th player with Penguins ties to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Zubov played for the Penguins in 1995-96.
It may have been his pass-first mentality while helming the Penguins talented power play, which included Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, which gave rise to the Pittsburgh mantra, “shoot!”
Zubov played most of his career with the Dallas Stars from 1996-2008. He scored 771 points (152g, 619a) in 1068 games.
He won the Stanley Cup with the 1994 New York Rangers and the 1999 Dallas Stars. Only current Penguins assistant coach Sergei Gonchar has more points (811) among Russian-born defensemen all-time.