If there was a free agent market for front office executives, a Hall of Famer just became a UFA. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reports that the Pittsburgh Penguins have given teams permission to speak with Jim Rutherford before his contract expires later this month. As Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote yesterday, there are no current general manager vacancies in the league, but Rutherford could be a fit in a different role.
After resigning from his position with the Penguins earlier this year, Rutherford’s name has been routinely brought up by insiders speculating on his next move. It has always seemed likely that he would return in some fashion, though it’s not clear if he’ll be taking over the day-to-day work of a GM or joining an organization in a president role. It’s also not clear which teams have spoken to him at this point.
Even if you disagree with some of his moves, it’s hard to see Rutherford as anything other than a legend in the sport. A three-time Stanley Cup winner as an executive, he has been a GM in the league since 1994. Known as a risktaker and willing trade partner, there have been some wild deals swung by Rutherford over the years. Even some of the moves that were lambasted at first, like acquiring Mike Matheson this past offseason, end up turning out okay in the end. That’s not to say he is infallible, but a team looking for stability in its front office could do much worse than bringing in someone with decades of experience.