The biggest question that arose from yesterday’s shocking news that Jim Rutherford had resigned as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins was simple: why now? The season is just a few weeks old, the Penguins are keeping their heads above water even while dealing with a rash of injuries and Rutherford was still the unquestioned head of the front office. In fact, the front office was a lot thinner on experienced names these days, after former assistants like Tom Fitzgerald, Jason Botterill, and Bill Guerin had all taken their own gigs somewhere else. ’Why?’ was the question that kept coming up, though a health-related issue was quickly ruled out by reporters and Penguins executives.
This morning, Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh tweeted that multiple sources had Rutherford working on a trade of Kris Letang, which was squashed by ownership, leading to the resignation. Rob Rossi of The Athletic however almost immediately threw cold water on that, reporting that Rutherford was “not working on a trade of any player that management/ownership halted.” Rossi went so far as to say that the resignation had nothing to do with roster-related matters.
Speaking to Rossi and colleague Josh Yohe, Rutherford said “it was just time” for him to leave, but others from the organization admitted they are now scrambling. Patrik Allvin has taken over as interim GM but was only just promoted to assistant GM a few months ago.
In response to the thought that his resignation perhaps had to do with a lawsuit filed by former AHL assistant coach Jarrod Skalde, Rutherford also explained the two were not connected in any way. Rutherford was on the final year of his contract as GM, but contract talks also appear not to be the reason for the resignation.
Much of the speculation has now been addressed directly, but even through Rossi’s thorough reporting one question still remains. Why now?