Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford will be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday in Toronto as part of the Builders Category. Rutheford can boast being one of the few GMs to have built Stanley Cup championship teams for two organizations.
Rutherford, 70, first became an NHL GM in 1994 when Peter Karmanos purchased the Hartford Whalers, and Rutherford was also a part-owner. The current Penguins GM built the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, which won the Stanley Cup after a 112-point regular season. Rutherford made several late-season deals, including acquiring veterans Doug Weight and current Penguins head coach Mark Recchi.
Rutherford was also the architect of the 2001-02 Carolina team, which won the Eastern Conference but lost in the Stanley Cup Final.
In 2014, Rutherford resigned as President of the Carolina Hurricanes to accept the Pittsburgh Penguins GM job. The Penguins were in the middle of organizational chaos as they searched for a new GM after firing Ray Shero. The search was messy, and some low-ball offers became public before Rutherford accepted the position.
The move was not immediately popular, and the Penguins struggled through 2014-15, including being forced to play with only five defensemen for a few weeks at the end of the season. However, in the summer of 2015, Rutherford regained the Midas touch. He acquired Phil Kessel and hired Mike Sullivan to be the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach. Both moves proved to be shrewd and the building blocks for the Penguins 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cups.
Rutherford was an NHL goalie for 13 years, including a three-year stop in Pittsburgh from 1971-74. Rutherford played 457 games as a player.
Jim Rutherford joined the conference call on Friday afternoon to discuss his Hall-call as well as what it means to him and some great memories from a management career, which began in 1984.