The Pittsburgh Penguins organization made GM Jim Rutherford available for a conference call on Wednesday afternoon. The NHL season remains paused amid the coronavirus pandemic and world-wide lockdown, and Rutherford discussed Jake Guentzel’s rehab, the effects of the work stoppage, and his own self-quarantine. Rutherford also shared similarities to his childhood and had a message for Pittsburgh Penguins fans.
First and most important to fans, Rutherford updated winger Jake Guentzel’s rehab process.
“If you look at when he was injured, and what the projection was for his timeline to return, it was four to six months,” Rutherford said. “So, if you take the shortest period, that would be the end of April. So, I would expect, knowing Jake Guentzel, he’s going to be ready.”
“The rehab is going well. He’s at the point now, he’s one of the guys who’s going to return home and work on his rehab from home. From all of the reports I’ve had, there have not been any setbacks at this point.”
Thus far, two Ottawa Senators have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19), and the LA Staples Center appears to be a hotbed for the virus. Ottawa passed through LA during that time, as did Colorado. The Penguins, fortunately, played in LA in late February, before the building was contaminated.
Rutherford addressed the potential of any Penguins contracting the virus, and it is good news.
“No one has heard been tested, to my knowledge, all the people that would be tested would have to follow within the guidelines. And no one has told me that they have had any symptoms or that there should be any testing.”
However, Rutherford was unable to shed more light on a modified NHL season or playoff proposals to award a 2019-2020 Stanley Cup. He said there are 10 or more proposals floating around but the safety of everyone comes first and the resumption of the season or playoffs aren’t decisions he will get to make.
Quarantine, Parents, and Sacrifice
Rutherford said Thursday will be Day 14 of the quarantine for him and his family, but he also shared a relatable story that seems a lot like Western PA, even though he grew up in Ontario.
“And we’ve been locked down here and in our house. My wife and my son and my two dogs. And we’ll continue that. I think as a family, we’re excited that tomorrow will be the 14th day. But as I remind everybody, it’s the first 14th day. There may be a few more of those periods of 14 days. And we just have to continue to stick together and do the things that we can do.”
“You know, it gets interesting for me like a person at my age when I think back and how I was brought up and there weren’t a lot of things to do and we just spent a lot of time at home. And you were just around the house, really a lot. You know, my family lived from check to check. We didn’t have very much. And so, you know, we didn’t do extra things. And we’d eat the same dinner, the same food for three nights in a row and things like that. And, you know, those are the things we’re doing now. And what’s happened to me is a family’s so important to me but to appreciate what my family did for me under tough times, not having gone through a virus, but having to kind of live the way we’re living right now. And it brings back a lot of memories and the appreciation and respect I have for my mom and dad.”
Rutherford said the Penguins chain of command is unbroken. He is in daily communication with President David Morehouse and with coach Mike Sullivan, and both of those people are in daily communications with others around them, so the Penguins will be ready for a resumption.
“For example, the trainers have given each player a workout program because we want the players staying at home. We want them to follow the guidelines, stay quarantined, but ‘here’s what you can do to work out at home and be prepared that if by chance we play again, you’re you’re not going to be behind.’ And so I think that I think we’ve covered most of the bases. And if we haven’t, I use the ear from an agent or from “Sully” or from (Penguins staff) as something that we may have to deal with.”
Break Benefit the Pittsburgh Penguins?
“Well, I think that prior to stopping play, we had run into a period where we were overusing guys in certain areas because of injuries and it was starting to catch up with us. And we didn’t have that same energy and juice that we had or the first half of the season. And so I would suggest that it would be to our benefit having the break.”
Praise for Pittsburgh
“It’s been a little while and I hope everyone’s doing well and taking care of themselves and their loved ones during this time. I say the obvious, it has been a time of uncertainty. But the one thing that I’m not surprised about is how the Pittsburgh community has come together and how the Penguins have also been in the community and been very generous in different ways on the frontlines. And just to our fans. I look forward to seeing you soon, safe and healthy, and to be excited to get hockey back at some point in time in our lives. I just want to start off by thanking you guys. I’ve spent the morning watching the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 91. That was a fun morning for me. It’s not something I was planning on doing at this time of the year, but I watched it when they wanted to go back and watch it again this morning. It was a lot of fun watching those games.“
PHN also chatted with 1992 Penguins head coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman. Check out Part 1 of the conversation, today.