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Rutherford Mixed Messages, This Week Best Chance for Trades



Pittsburgh Penguins GM JIm Rutherford talks trade rumors
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford talks trade rumors at the 2019 NHL Draft

Vancouver — The Pittsburgh Penguins want a culture change, but General Manager Jim Rutherford no longer feels pressure to make a trade. Rutherford admitted he wanted to add a few new faces in the locker room, but Rutherford shrugged at the notion of more deals and smiled when he said the Penguins have already begun that change.

Unless Olli Maatta was the issue in the Penguins locker room, it’s hard to identify when the Penguins began the change.

“People think there’s going to be a lot of turnover with the Penguins but I don’t think there was ever that intention,” Rutherford said from the NHL Draft floor. “We want to make some changes, change a little bit of the culture in the room and we’ve started to do that.”

“We’ll probably do that prior to training camp.”

The Penguins won’t experience heavy turnover, but they want to make some changes and change the culture of the room.

Rutherford was asked if he felt pressure to make a move not just at the draft but in general.

“No,” was the relaxed answer.

But when Rutherford was asked if there was a specific area of need or things he would target, again the answer contradicted the easygoing answers.

“I don’t think it’s any one thing or any one position. It’s just a matter that we need to re-tool or freshen things up a little bit; get a few new faces in there then go about our business a little bit different. From the coach’s point of view, from my point of view, and the leaders of the team, try to bring it together earlier in the year, which is something we didn’t do last year.”

If you’re keeping score, the Penguins won’t have much turnover, Rutherford doesn’t feel pressure to make a deal, but they need to add a few new faces and freshen up the locker room then change their approach. Those seem like mixed messages.

Which is it? Will the Penguins push to add new faces to the locker room or not?

“It is highly unlikely (Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin) will be dealt,” Rutherford stated before opening the door again. “The point I was making was I am open to accepting calls and have conversations about our players. I wasn’t aggressively active on trying to move those top players.”

One such call Pittsburgh Hockey Now is able to report came from the Montreal Canadiens on Kris Letang. Rutherford’s comments both dismissed the possibilities of significant change but acknowledged the need.

“I think we can change how we go about our business with a little different approach, how we bring the team together,” Rutherford said. “If we can make two or three moves over the summer, which we’ve already made one, and then regroup, get the team in the right direction where it can come together, we have good enough players to win.”

“So it’s either make a lot of changes but it’s going to take a while for it to come together, or make a few changes and go about it a little bit different.”

Rutherford is entirely correct those are the Penguins options. So which will it be? By admission, he is fielding offers for Malkin and Letang but not shopping them. And he wants to add a few new faces.

“Yes,” he said simply when asked if this weekend and the following few days are the best time to make those trades.

Mixed messages or strong messages. Big actions or several actions. He won’t call but will take calls on Letang and Malkin. The Penguins GM has sufficiently created wonder about the Penguins next steps, which is advantageous as long he doesn’t share that same wonder.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Rich Filardi
Rich Filardi (@richi81)
2 years ago

JR is very contradictory or a good poker face, we all known by changing small pieces that affect is really nothing. If something significant isn’t changed, then it’s a matter of injury-which often happens with this squad or a bad start- which is 50/50. Remember the 3rd line saga that was an off-season topic a few seasons back and it took a long time to make a move, look how that resulted. Waiting it out to make change might be worse cause it will cost way more to try and fix it, and potentially too late.

Edgar (@edgar)
2 years ago

I’m very unsure about what all his talk was supposed to accomplish now. He could have gone about his business looking in to trades for these guys with other GM’s without feeling the need to express his every feeling to the media. A simple, “we know we under achieved and are looking at ways ti improve the team” would have sufficed for now. It’s most definitely not a good look the way he has been handling things the past 2 months or so.

RobertU (@robertu)
2 years ago

I’ve got to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and assume he still has intelligence. Which is to say, throwing all this uncertainty in the air is about the only play he has right now. The Kessel debacle exposed his intents and painted him into a corner. The only way out is to convince everyone he’s willing to go at it with the same team next year (in other words, don’t bother low-balling me). That, or he’s lost his mind.

Edgar (@edgar)
2 years ago
Reply to  RobertU

Ha! You may be right about that!

Matt Luda
Matt Luda
2 years ago

Chill, people. At least GMJR hasn’t re-acquired Antti Niemi yet.

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