"In a new General Managers first press conference, we want to hear his 5-year plan, - not that he sees his time here as short term."
"I wanted a young, new, fresh general manager, not this old guy."
"The Hurricanes haven't made the playoffs in five years, how is this an improvement for the Penguins?"
These, among others, are the complaints I've heard about new Penguins General Manager, Jim Rutherford. These are the complaints I've heard made not even hours after Rutherford was announced the new GM. The complaints made before the man has even had time to unpack his suitcase, let alone make a decision regarding this organization worthy of judging. To those of you who agree with one of the three complaints listed above, here is what i have to say to you:
First of all, if you believe that the General Manager coming into Pittsburgh should be coming in with a 5-year plan, then you haven't been watching Penguins hockey. In the past five years since winning the Cup, they have finished 1st in the East, 2nd in the East, and 4th in the East three times. Of course, they haven't won the Stanley Cup in any of those past 5 seasons, but you don't see those kind of regular season results with a bad team. Anyone looking for a 5-year plan tells me they're looking for a restructuring of the organization. This team DOES NOT need restructured. This team has talent. This team has potential. This team has the ability to win Stanley Cups RIGHT NOW. Therefore, I am not looking for a man who can tell me how the Penguins are going to win a Cup in 5 years. I'm looking for the man who is going to make the necessary minor adjustments to win a Stanley Cup RIGHT NOW.
Now, look at the other changes made within the Penguins system. Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald promoted to Asst. General Managers, and Jason Botterill named Assoc. GM. Here's the young guys you all seem to be looking for. Yes, Jim Rutherford has seen better days. Regardless, you cannot deny that he is a great hockey mind from whom one can learn a lot. The new assistant and associate GM's named above are young brilliant hockey minds, yet they still have much to learn. Allow Rutherford to teach them his ways, allow them to learn from him, see how to run a Nation Hockey League team. Then in two or three years, allow them to step up and be the youthful, vibrant minds that lead this hockey team. Allow yourself to have the patience for them to learn, for when the time comes for them to step up, you will be grateful for you will see how much their hockey knowledge has expanded and how capable they are of continuing the success of the Pittsburgh hockey organization.
Finally, take a step back. Look at the roster of the Carolina Hurricanes. Now look at that of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It doesn't take a genius to know that the skill scale tilts heavily to one of those organizations; spoiler alert: it's the organization about which this article is written. Therefore, it would take a fool to say that Jim Rutherford is the reason the Canes haven't danced in the postseason in so long. Raleigh is not home to a man by the name of Sidney Crosby, nor is it to a man named Evgeni Malkin, and the list goes on. Carolina has simply not had the skill or luck required to play for Stanley's silver chalice. With Rutherford calling the shots for an organization that has the talent to make it to the playoffs, he becomes an entirely different person.
A final note to think about:Rutherford doesn't know this organization well. He doesn't have a great idea of the system played here, nor the depth and prospects that Pittsburgh has. However, in his first press conference, he has already noted that he intends to add grit and spirit to the hockey team, improve the 3rd and 4th lines, bring in a coach to spark a fire under his bench, and win another Stanley Cup. Now, anyone who knows anything about Penguins hockey knows that these changes are what this team needs.
Therefore, I ask you to give Jim Rutherford a chance. Look beyond his short term philosophy, his age, and his past and see the potential he brings to Pittsburgh.
If nothing else, allow him to make a decision, work for a few weeks or months, get to know the team and make his changes, before your write him off as a failure.