Since the Vancouver Canucks cleaned house on December 5, firing GM Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green, among others, the team is 4-0-0. While new head coach Bruce Boudreau may have made a difference behind the bench in those contests, new President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford has barely been on the job since his hiring was formally announced on Thursday. It just goes to show that the Canucks roster is not in need of a complete teardown. Changes can be made, and knowing Rutherford they certainly will, but the Hall of Fame executive will not make any snap judgements. As a result, Rutherford told the media today, including NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley, that he will not rush to hire a GM nor to make any trades.
The interim GM as well, Rutherford was hired with the intention of overseeing the Canucks’ front office rather than running the day-to-day. He has others in mind for that role, stating that there are 40 names currently on the list to possibly be the next Vancouver GM. Rutherford won’t rush the decision though and will instead take his time with trimming the list. “I’m not here to be the general manager, but I’m capable of doing the job,” Rutherford said. “I would like to get somebody in place sooner than later, but if it’s not in the near future it’s OK. We want to try to get it right.” Rutherford mentioned that he will consider both former GMs and current Assistant GM’s for the role and wants to find someone that he works well with, whether that be an experienced mind who would be more of an equal partner or instead someone that he can mentor and mold.
Without a GM in place, Rutherford also does not expect to make any trades in meantime. Again, he is permitted to make a move and has more experience in doing so than just about anyone on the planet, but will not rush to change the roster that he just recently inherited and wants to take time to evaluate:
I’m not in a hurry to make a trade. I’ve already got calls. I got calls before I got to Vancouver: ’I like this player, I like that player, give me a call if you decide to move somebody.’ If somebody calls and something pretty good comes along that we think improves our team now and in the long run, yeah, we’ll take a look at it. But I’m not going to be making a lot of calls. My focus immediately will be to get this restructured and get people in place, because the stronger the hockey department is off the ice, it will make the team stronger on the ice… There’s work to be done here. There’s holes in the lineup, areas that have to be worked on… [but] I want to be careful with our trades.
While Rutherford largely spoke in generalities about his opinions on the current construction of the roster and his plans to improve, he did note that buying, in the typical sense of the word, is “not the cycle we’re in.” In fact, Rutherford stated that his early-round draft picks will be untouchable, as will some of his younger standouts. The one name specifically mentioned as off limits was starter Thatcher Demko, but as Rutherford watches the Canucks – especially if they keep winning – that list is likely to grow. Once Rutherford has his new GM and has had enough time to properly evaluate the roster, it seems like his plan is probably to re-tool by moving some of the veteran Canucks off the roster. A new voice and new plan in the front office is already exciting for Vancouver and their fans, but more fireworks are coming – just not quite yet.