CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Winger Carl Hagelin was as popular in the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room as he was fast on the ice. But something had to give, in the estimation of general manager Jim Rutherford.
The GM Wednesday shipped Hagelin to the Los Angeles Kings for winger Tanner Pearson.
Rutherford on his radio show last week indicated he was not happy with several aspects of the team’s performance and that a trade could be imminent. Things haven’t improved much since then. The Penguins are on a 1-5-1 slide. Overall, the Penguins are 7-6-3, tied for second-to-last in the Eastern Conference.
“I’m usually pretty patient, but my patience has run out,” Rutherford said after pulling off the trade.
The players heard Rutherford loud and clear.
“If you don’t play well there’s going to be changes,” said winger Patric Hornqvist, who is close with fellow Swede Hagelin.
“Obviously (Rutherford) is sending a big message to the group. It’s been 16 games. we might have played five good games, two average and seven or eight really bad.”
Rutherford said it remains to be seen whether this is just the start of a series of changes. It apparently depends on how the Penguins play.
They host Tampa Bay Thursday at PPG Paints Arena.
“I don’t think we are playing the way we want right now,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “I don’t think we’re happy about results. These things happen in those circumstances.
“It’s hard to see a guy like Hagy (get traded). Hagy’s always such a good teammate, a good player on the ice, works every day. He’s the same kind of guy like (Marc-Andre Fleury) was. He brings so much joy to the dressing room. He’s always happy, always comes in with a good attitude, always giving his 100 percent.”