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Jim Rutherford GM Legacy

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03-03-2012, 09:41 PM
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Stephen
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Jim Rutherford GM Legacy

How will history remember Jim Rutherford as a general manager? He has been the GM of the Hartford/Carolina franchise since 1994, and has fashioned a cup winner in Carolina in 2006, but outside of that year, and the Cinderella run in 2002, the team has actually only made the playoffs five times missed the playoffs 12 years. Outside of the outlying championship year, the team has been pretty mediocre under his watch. While he has assembled a fairly quality core of talent, they often underachieve. He makes a lot of rash decisions with youth, and has never really built a very good farm system. He has a pretty unique relationship with the owner, but his longevity is probably not a result of the quality of his teams. He doesn't wow you with small market drafting and development. He's kind of short sighted with regards to moving young players. He's not really known for winning trades in spectacular fashion. His free agent signings are mostly so so. What do you think of the guy? Is he making due with what he has to work with, or is he just a mediocre GM who has managed to stay in the game due to a unique circumstance?

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03-04-2012, 05:15 PM
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nothing special has a GM

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03-05-2012, 10:47 AM
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seventieslord
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Very, very loyal. Overall no better than an average GM. Caught lightning in a bottle twice, the second time almost entirely due to shrewd roster moves he made exiting the lockout, so credit to him for that.

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03-05-2012, 01:42 PM
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tarheelhockey
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Sounds like the OP has his mind made up already


Rutherford is, as noted above, not any better than your average GM. He doesn't have a whole lot to work with, either -- the team is on an internal budget, doesn't play in a particularly attractive city for UFAs, and can't really afford financially to tank for a long time. His go-to strategy has been to form strong bonds with players who end up here, ensuring hometown discounts and "retreads" down the line. He's also a big fan of picking up castoffs from other organizations and giving them a chance to turn their careers around. The downside to these strategies is that he tends to saddle the organization with mediocre players for a long time.

It would be interesting to see him operate a team on a full-cap budget for a few years in a row.

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03-05-2012, 01:59 PM
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buffalowing88
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Rutherford is, as stated before, an average to above average GM who has made himself an institution of the organization and thus is less accountable than more big market GM's. I thought he did a better job with Hartford and the ability to bring in talent to that team than he did with Carolina for a long time. The 05-06 team was probably an aberration, especially considering that the same core was with the team for a few years after and failed to replicate consistent success. Unlike the Buffalo Sabres, a lockout darling who also ran with a roster of re-treads and homegrown talent, Carolina failed to ever really adapt and change up their core. I blame that on Rutherford. He knows what he will get from these guys yet he continues to re-sign them. It'd be one thing if he was a drafting/scouting whiz like a Reiger or Holland, but he really isn't and the only viable prospects he has overseen the development of since the lockout have been Skinner, Ward, and to a lesser extent Sutter.

All of this is a moot point, though, when you remember that he has to operate under a tight internal budget. We never will truly know what he's capable of as long as he's in that situation.

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03-05-2012, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seventieslord View Post
Very, very loyal. Overall no better than an average GM. Caught lightning in a bottle twice, the second time almost entirely due to shrewd roster moves he made exiting the lockout, so credit to him for that.
Which moves would you be referring to?

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03-05-2012, 02:54 PM
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TasteofFlames
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Originally Posted by Timonen View Post
Which moves would you be referring to?
While not exactly "coming out of the lock-out," he did pick up both Doug Weight and Mark Recchi around the 06 deadline, and both played important veteran roles in the canes' cup win.

I think Rutherford's best attribute is how loyal he is to his players, which, in turn, leads to players loyal to the organization: Cole, Brind'amor, Francis, etc. While his team has has their share of ups and downs, players who have been in Raleigh before, come back pretty often. So, while the canes may not be a premier team in a prime location, Rutherford seems to be heading up a quality organization.


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03-05-2012, 03:32 PM
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seventieslord
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I was thinking more along the lines of getting rid of Jeff O'Neill at 29 and picking up a 32-year old Ray Whitney. O'Neill was considered by most to be on the way up and Whitney winding down. O'Neill was a flat out liability for two seasons with Toronto, and Whitney helped them on the way to the cup immensely, benefiting from the extra space the obstuction rules gave him, and the extra PP time a small guy like him craves. 6 seasons later, he is a legitimate 2nd all-star team candidate.

But yeah, he did catch lightning in a bottle with Brind'Amour and Staal both having arguably career seasons, and Ward heating up in the playoffs.

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03-05-2012, 06:16 PM
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Kyle McMahon
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Rutherford seems to assemble teams with a lot of honest, hard-working, and versatile players. Lots of Canadians typically, and genuinely likeable teams iced over the years. Have you ever met anybody that hates the Hurricanes, at least based on the players they have?

Rutherford definitely builds teams made to excel in the playoffs. Getting into the playoffs in the first place has proven to be Carolina's biggest challenge. Just three playoff appearances in 10 years (assuming they miss this year), but they've won 9 of the 11 series they've played.

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03-05-2012, 06:56 PM
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Rutherford's success deserves some context. Playing with a limited budget, in a city growing a hockey culture, and making the finals twice? Not an easy feat.

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03-05-2012, 09:59 PM
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Definitely a unique production/operation they have down in North Carolina. The way Karmanos and Rutherford have eked out an existence for so many years makes me think of a mom and pop restaurant. Has a real homespun feel, they're not fancy, not flashy with big time UFAs or young guns (with a few exceptions) but has this funny tradition. Definitely a bit of a curiosity in modern professional sports.

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03-05-2012, 10:04 PM
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kmad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tarheelhockey View Post
He doesn't have a whole lot to work with, either -- the team is on an internal budget, doesn't play in a particularly attractive city for UFAs, and can't really afford financially to tank for a long time.
I think we need to stress these constraints when evaluating him as a GM. You can't realistically compare him to a guy like Mike Gillis who has a billionaire owner in a vibrant hockey market and a blank check to do whatever he wants. Rutherford might be average in a vacuum but considering his limitations I'd say he has done a great job.

edit: looks like superroyain beat me to it. That'll teach me to not read the whole thread.

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03-05-2012, 10:09 PM
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tarheelhockey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyle McMahon View Post
Lots of Canadians typically
And Finns! Jokinen, Ruutu, Pitkanen, Kapanen, Osala. I'm not sure exactly why, but we've had a big Finnish identity for a while now.

The Finns on the team all live in close proximity and are good family friends. When we participated in the Premiere event last season, it was in Helsinki. It is pretty openly known that Ruutu and Pitkanen avoided free agency in part because they were reluctant to leave that comfort zone.

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