Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford is reported to be an incredibly nice guy. That is the last compliment he is about to be paid.
Being a pleasant and agreeable person to be around does not make a hockey team successful. This is handy if you’re taking a guy fishing, but not when trying to win an Eastern Conference championship. This is a task at which Rutherford has been about as useful as a necklace made out of live hamsters. While he has had a hit or two such as signing Nathan Gerbe, Andrej Sekera and Manny Malhotra, it does not compare to his absolute chowderhead blunders.
Exhibit A: the 2013 NHL trade deadline. During a season that could be saved from its epic tailspin, Rutherford spent the day likely playing video games and drinking soda. Nothing happened, nobody donned a Hurricanes sweater and the team publically threw in the towel on the season. Local grocery stores sold out of paper bags as fans felt shame.
This is not a thing that needs to happen again this year. The 2014 NHL trade deadline is nearly upon us, and there’s not a lot of hope that Rutherford has been having conscious thought as to making trades. There’s talk, but talk is just that — talk. As we all know, talk doesn’t get its name engraved on the Stanley Cup.
This year’s trade deadline has got to be a do-or-die for Rutherford’s employment status with the organization. Should he sit on his hands once again, there’s nothing owner Peter Karmanos Jr. can do but pink-slip the guy. Current VP Of Hockey Operations, Ron Francis is royalty in the organization and has proven himself as one of the best scouts in the business. The only problem with him taking over for Rutherford would be what color to re-decorate the office.
There are a ton of hot trades just sitting out there waiting. Rutherford needs only to be willing to part with some players who may or may not be fun to hang out with. Which makes them awesome to grab a beer with, but not so much for winning a conference championship. Cam Ward can go, and if not him, Justin Peters. Pat Dwyer can go. The list goes on. Rutherford hoards players bad enough to require an intervention.
Success leans on a lot of things on the ice. Off the ice, it is tied into Rutherford’s phone and whether or not he chooses to pick it up.