Friday, 25 April 2014

Carolina To Shuffle The Deck

Lost in all the excitement of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs was a small news item that the Carolina Hurricanes will reportedly call a news conference next week to announce that long-time general manager Jim Rutherford, seen on the left, will be stepping down from his position. This is rather shocking news considering that he is one of hockey's most respected executives, but Rutherford might actually want to retire after serving his team and its community so well for so long.

Rutherford has been the only general manager that the Carolina Hurricanes have had. He has been a part of the Whalers and Hurricanes for twenty years as the general manager, compiling a record of 534-486-156-20 with the franchise. His teams played in two Stanley Cup Finals, winning once over the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. He was also named as The Hockey News "Executive of the Year" twice and the Sporting News' "Executive of the Year" in 2006 after the Hurricanes captured the Stanley Cup. In short, the former NHL goaltender-turned-executive has done pretty well for himself over these last two decades.

Rutherford could stay on in his capacity as club president, and it seems likely that the man on his right in the picture above - Ron Francis - would step into the role of general manager. Francis is the vice president of hockey operations for the Hurricanes currently, so this transition shouldn't be too difficult for Francis to make.

There is a concern that the franchise will want to start moving high-priced talent to open doors for younger, less expensive talent to step in. While a rebuild is not being mentioned, the thought of moving pieces like Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, or Cam Ward seems to indicate that there will be some major renovations done at least. The Hurricanes would like to shed themselves of Cam Ward's contract, it seems, after a sub-par season, but we'll have to see what happens in the coming days with the announcement.

It will be interesting to see who replaces Rutherford as the Hurricanes look to build for the future. Dealing away key, high-priced talent may set them back in the short term, but it could help long-term if they are able to develop some great young talent. Rutherford certainly left his mark on the franchise, though, and his retirement from the general manager's position will leave a void in the ranks of the NHL general managers.

The second-longest tenured general manager is gone. Who is next to fall?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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