Jim Rutherford

‘Canes GM Rutherford ‘about as frustrated as you can get’


On Mar. 12, the Carolina Hurricanes were 15-9-1, sitting third in the Eastern Conference with 31 points, looking good for a playoff spot.

Fast forward to today — just 23 days later — and things look decidedly less rosy.

The ‘Canes are in a tailspin, having lost nine of their last 10, and head into tonight’s game against Tampa Bay sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference.

That’s drawn the ire of GM Jim Rutherford, who said he’s “about as frustrated as you can get” over Carolina’s struggles.

“We’re not sitting here saying [the season’s] over,” he told the Raleigh News and Observer. “But the most frustrating thing is that in the first part of the season we showed what kind of team we had — and we played very well.”

Carolina’s slide has coincided with a number of crucial injuries. Starting netminder Cam Ward (sprained MCL) was lost for the regular season, and backup Dan Ellis missed time with a skate laceration.

Top defenseman Justin Faulk has been out with a knee sprain of his own, and the No. 2 defenseman — Joni Pitkanen — broke his heel bone on an icing chase this week, which ended his season.

Tuomo Ruutu’s only played in four games after undergoing offseason hip surgery, and checking forward Chad LaRose missed extensive time with a concussion.

Add it all up, and you’ve got a team struggling to overcome a massive stretch of bad luck and worse health.

Now, the Canes are four points back of Winnipeg for the Southeast Division lead and five back of New Jersey for the eighth and final playoff spot.

What makes this slide even more frustrating is that Carolina spent big bucks to assemble its current team: $35 million for Alex Semin, $60 million for Jordan Staal and $34.35 million for Jeff Skinner.

It’s something Rutherford alluded to in voicing his frustrations.

“We spent more money on our team this year. I believe we had a team in place that was a very good team,” he explained. “But when I talk about it coming at a worse time, this is a year we have decided to raise ticket prices and do different things.

“That doesn’t sit right with the paying customer, when they watch a team that was so good in the first half and a team that wasn’t good in the second half.”

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.