The Carolina Hurricanes are falling apart at the seams — nobody denies this. Well, almost nobody.
Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford is a disaster on a level that makes it hard to select adjectives to properly convey how dangerous to the stability of the franchise he’s become. Allowing Rutherford to run the organization for one more season would be like handing a drunken teenager the keys to an oil tanker.
As many candles to the hockey gods that Hurricanes fans have lit, praying for the end of the Rutherford era, it seems they may be getting their wish. After the Hurricanes re-signed defenseman Justin Faulk early Monday morning, a couple of statements leaked their way from Rutherford to Twitter.
First was a statement he made to Hurricanes web producer, Michael Smith: “I’m really looking more at my situation & who makes those hockey decisions going forward,” Rutherford told Smith.
It’s one of the first and only times Rutherford has ever made any mention of anyone making any decisions other than him. Which is somewhat interesting after the morning’s news of locking up Faulk for six more years.
Later a report came out from the Hurricanes correspondent at the News & Observer, Chip Alexander, saying that sources close to Rutherford have reported to him that the GM will likely be stepping down at season’s end and handing duties over to VP of Hockey Operations Ron Francis.
Alexander rarely gets these things wrong, and for Smith to get a similar quote is not coincidence.
Should Rutherford actually be stepping down, this will be the best possible thing to happen to the Hurricanes since they left Hartford. Rutherford is a hot mess and has consistently made awful decisions, punctuated by a stroke of good luck. Those strokes have become fewer and further between.
Francis as GM will be exactly what the Hurricanes need. His skills as a scout and a researcher are unparalleled in the league, and his status as Hurricanes royalty will command him the respect in the hockey community he needs. Simply, Francis knows what needs to be done, and he will do it.
Truth be told, should Francis take over, his very first decision before he even settles into his new office should be to fire head coach Kirk Muller and replace him with someone holding a beefier resume. Muller has followed Rutherford over the edge and is nothing but bad news moving forward.
Rutherford’s hints about stepping down should bring a bright ray of sunshine into what has been a dark and gloomy season.