If there’s one theme to the Carolina Hurricanes’ way of doing business, it might be “loyalty.”
Sometimes that preference reaches into the realm of the slightly ridiculous, as the team tends to bring back retreads with notable frequency. Just look at their history with Anton Babchuk, Cory Stillman, Erik Cole, the Kaberle brothers and even their once-fired head coach Paul Maurice for examples of this phenomenon.
While the team’s on-ice results seem to be on one year and off the other – possibly as a result of the Canes’ dependence upon stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward – the team seems like a solid hit in its non-traditional market. It’s my guess that fact (and his glistening 2006 Stanley Cup championship ring) explains why the Hurricanes decided to hand general manager Jim Rutherford a four-year contract extension.
It’s true that I don’t agree with every decision Rutherford makes, but considering Carolina’s restricted budget, it seems like he does a very solid job of putting together an attacking roster. Last year’s seventh overall pick Jeff Skinner won the 2011 Calder Trophy and most of their recent first round picks have been direct hits (even if they ended up on different teams).
The team might struggle with the loss of a key player such as Cole – who bolted for the Montreal Canadiens’ substantial deal – but it was the most cost-effective and risk-conscious option for a player with a troubling injury history. My guess at this moment is that the Canes will struggle to fight for a playoff spot in 2011-12, but for the most part, Rutherford seems like he knows what’s he is doing.