Jim Rutherford’s Sudden Resignation
— Shocked, stunned, mystified, it is all above for the entire Penguins organization on Jim Rutherford abruptly stepping down as General Manager on Wednesday morning.
One high ranking Penguins source best described Rutherford quitting as ‘pettiness’. What has stunned most in the organization is just the way Rutherford up and quit.
To put it frankly, the 71 year old decided out of the blue he is just done with the organization. There was no outreach from Rutherford on sticking around in an advisory role until the season is over or anything to that matter, sources say.
I’m told top Penguin officials are just left stunned even more so from the standpoint that reasons they feel Rutherford might have quit for were really just lower level type disagreements that the Penguins saw as being fixable after talking things out. Jim, though, had no interest in that.
Minutes after the stunning news of Rutherford’s resignation was announced, Rutherford was already putting it out there to his media pals that this doesn’t mean he’s retiring by any means and that after the season when his contract expires, he would likely be open to considering another GM or executive role elsewhere.
So how did the Rutherford resignation come about so abruptly without any warning?
Not even Team President David Morehouse who is extremely close with Rutherford on a personal level, was given a truly specific reason by Rutherford, sources say.
But, here are the myriad of issues that built up between Rutherford and members of the organization over the last 10-14 days:
— The Mike Sullivan – Jim Rutherford relationship was heading towards a collision course, high ranking sources say. Again not on a personal level between the two, but at a professional level. Rutherford is said to have been extremely frustrated and agitated with coaching decisions made by Mike Sullivan just even a couple games into the season. Multiple sources say Rutherford was livid at the decision Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
Rutherford is sensitive to people who criticize his personnel moves, overboard emotional after losses and last week during the Capitals two game series, members of the coaching staff feared a Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" Buffalo was in the works, something that was going to be seen as being nothing more than Rutherford trying to send an unnecessary message to his team and piss off some specific people, namely M Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
The bigger story isn’t the deteriorating Coach/GM relationship that was eventually going to come to a head, it’s the push back Rutherford started get from Team President David Morehouse for really the first time in Rutherford’s tenure. Rutherford has always had full rein and there were some cracks evolving in the relationship, more so than ever realized prior to the news coming down. On a personal level, the two were said to have been great, on a professional level Rutherford was starting to get questioned from Morehouse and ownership to a lesser extent.
There were more and more signs emerging among the two they were no longer aligned on the present and immediate future on the direction of the team like they had often been for so many years.
Whispers last week are those above Rutherford had started the process amongst themselves of having dialogue (with one particular name of interest) on the need to start thinking/exploring a succession plan at GM, yet, multiple league sources insist Rutherford QUITTING is not believed to be contract extension related. He wasn’t going to be pushed out the door at seasons end.
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— An interesting wrinkle, a strong sense on Wednesday that Mario Lemieux had become more interested in consulting on decisions of Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
— Penguin ownership have always been against buyouts and giving the green light to buyout Jack Johnson was seen as an embarrassment to them. Add in paying Nick Bjugstad the sum they are now not to play for them and it doesn’t sound like those above Rutherford have been thrilled with the Jason Zucker trade that took on some significant dollars.