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.