In shocking news, the Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that Jim Rutherford has resigned as general manager, citing personal reasons. Patrik Allvin, the team’s assistant general manager has been promoted to interim GM while the team begins an immediate search for a new GM. Rutherford has been with the Penguins since 2014 and released a short statement on his departure:
It has been a great honor to serve as general manager of the Penguins, and to hang two more Stanley Cup banners at PPG Paints Arena. I have so many people to thank, beginning with the owners, Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux, and team president David Morehouse. There always has been so much support from everyone involved with the Penguins, both on the hockey and business staffs, and, of course, from a special group of players led by Sidney Crosby. The fans here have been tremendous to me and my family. I know it’s a little unusual to have this happen during a season, but just felt this was the right time to step away.
Allvin was only just named AGM in November, having previously worked with the team in several roles including director of amateur scouting. He has been with the Penguins for more than a decade, but will now be thrust into the spotlight as the team’s front office leader. The release indicates that Allvin will consult with Lemieux for input and advice during the interim period.
Rutherford has been a pillar of the NHL for decades, first as a goaltender that appeared in 457 NHL games over 13 seasons, and then as an executive. Named general manager of the Hartford Whalers in 1994, he remained with the team through their relocation to Carolina and won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006. During his tenure in Pittsburgh, he put together a team that won back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017. Rutherford was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019.
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports that this was “absolutely” Rutherford’s decision, while Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reports it is not health-related. The long-time manager leaves the Penguins in the midst of a unique season and with a 4-2-1 record early on. The team has lost several key players to injury but still sit in a playoff spot for the time being. Critics may say that success is in spite of Rutherford’s recent mistakes (of which there have been many), but there have been several outstanding moves by the veteran GM as well that have kept the competitive window open around Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. John Marino, for instance, was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers for a sixth-round pick, only to quickly turn into one of the best defensemen on the team.
Never one to shy away from a blockbuster, Rutherford’s departure from the ranks of NHL general managers will be a loss for hockey fans all over the league. It remains to be seen how Allvin operates, but he may not even be in charge very long. LeBrun notes that the Penguins will look at both internal and external options but doesn’t believe they will “want this to drag too long.”