It’s still not exactly clear what made Jim Rutherford suddenly resign his post as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this year. Given that he still has “the bug” to help a front office, as he told Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic recently, some have wondered if there was perhaps a philosophical disagreement between Rutherford and his Pittsburgh bosses. When asked on the Cam and Strick Podcast about whether he had tried to trade Kris Letang but ownership stopped it, the legendary executive denied any rumors:
Nope. Not accurate. As a matter of fact, I’ve said publicly a few times. Because you get to a point in a player’s career–should you trade ’em, get something young for them or not–but I’ve actually took the position that because the core guys won Stanley Cups, three Stanley Cups, that [Sidney] Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin and Letang should play their whole career in Pittsburgh. I wish I could say the same thing about [Marc-Andre] Fleury, but we got squeezed on the cap at an earlier time. But those four guys should have played their whole career in Pittsburgh. There’s three of them still there. That’s how I felt then, that’s how I feel now.
If Letang and Malkin are to play their whole careers in Pittsburgh, they’ll need new contracts before long. Both players are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents after the 2021-22 season. Crosby meanwhile is signed through 2024-25, which potentially could cover the end of his career already. He’ll be 34 this offseason, meaning his contract takes him through his age-37 season.
- John Tortorella got the infamous vote of confidence from his general manager earlier today, as Jarmo Kekalainen explained he isn’t looking to make changes to the coaching staff and trusts this group to get the Columbus Blue Jackets out of their recent slump. The Blue Jackets have lost five straight and sit fifth in the Central Division, only ahead of the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, and Dallas Stars (who have only played 16 games, the fewest in the entire league). Tortorella, though respected as a strong systems coach that can get a lot out of a mediocre roster, has been known to eventually have players tune him out in his previous stops. Kekalainen, as Aaron Portzline of The Athletic writes, hasn’t seen that kind of thing yet. A Stanley Cup champion with the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, Tortorella has been the head coach of the Blue Jackets since the 2015-16 season and has had a winning record in each season with the club.
- Dustin Wolf has been reassigned back to the WHL, re-joining the Everett Silvertips after a short taste of professional hockey. The 19-year-old goaltender played three games for the Stockton Heat, winning two of them and posting an .895 save percentage. A seventh-round pick in 2019, Wolf is an extremely intriguing prospect trying to break through despite a significant disadvantage–he stands a (generous) 6’0″ and would be one of the smallest goaltenders in the NHL, should he ever make it. So far that size discrepancy hasn’t stopped him, winning CHL Goaltender of the Year and recently taking home a World Junior gold medal. Now that the WHL is returning, Wolf is no longer eligible to play in the AHL.