Tag: Jim Rutheford

Dan Bylsma

Former Pens Niskanen and Orpik react to Bylsma’s firing


Former Penguins’ defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, now with the Washington Capitals, recently spoke to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the summer firing of Dan Bylsma and his staff.

“The organization can say whatever it wants, that it wasn’t sure what it wanted to do, all that stuff,” said Niskanen. “But it was (bull).

“It’s not like Dan was a chump or something, but that’s how he was treated. He won you guys a Cup, you know?”

The Penguins fired general manager Ray Shero in May, but waited until current GM Jim Rutherford was hired in June before firing Bylsma and his staff.

Niskanen spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins registering 85 points in 214 games.

The 28-year-old joined the Capitals via free agency in the summer signing a seven-year, $40.25 million contract.

Niskanen and Orpik, who signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract with Washington, return to Pittsburgh on Dec. 27.

“I definitely have an opinion on it,” Orpik said. “But I don’t think it does any good to share that right now. At the end of the day, it’s people running a business. That’s what you always hear. It’s a cut-throat business. I don’t think anything surprises me anymore.”

Orpik broke into the league with the Penguins and spent parts of 11 seasons with Pittsburgh registering 132 points in 703 games.

Both players told reporter Josh Yohe, they were treated well, but had issues with the way the coaching staff was handled.

“I was always treated really well when I was there,” Niskanen said. “But, you know, I have a real problem with how those guys were treated. A lot of guys on the team were very upset by how everything happened.”

Jim Rutherford should feel the heat in Carolina, too

2010 NHL Draft - Round One

After a dispiriting 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, it’s natural to wonder if Paul Maurice is on the verge of unemployment. I’m not here to argue against that; the fact that the Carolina Hurricanes lost six of their seven last games in regulation is a sign that the team’s main cook isn’t finding the right mix.

(His comments certainly captured the spirit of a broken man, as Maurice told Chip Alexander things like: “We were so damn slow we couldn’t do anything.”)

Jim Rutheford deserves part of the blame

Yet if you’re going to fire the cook, what about the guy who’s shopping for the groceries? The Hurricanes are more or less a small market team and while they have had their glory runs, the top-heavy structure of the squad isn’t that far from the wobbly framework that defines the woeful Columbus Blue Jackets. (Eric Staal plays the role of Rick Nash; Cam Ward is a rich man’s version of Steve Mason.)

Much like Scott Howson did with James Wisniewski, Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford overspent for his big free agent defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Some say Ville Leino is the worst addition of the summer, but the Hurricanes had one shot and they missed badly. I’d argue that makes the Kaberle move worse than the Leino one, and Rutherford didn’t do much better in adding filler like Alexei Ponikarovsky, either.

Beyond getting a great draft steal in Jeff Skinner, Rutherford’s recent moves have either been minimal or damaging. Once you get past Staal, Skinner and Ward, the Hurricanes are an Island of Misfit Hockey Toys. (Sometimes those misfits turn out OK like Jussi Jokinen, but that’s not a great way to build a team.)

Drop “GM” from Rutherford’s title

The thing is, Rutherford is deeply embedded in the franchise, as he’s now a partial owner. If that means that he cannot be fired, then perhaps he should be “promoted” out of the GM spot? The then-Atlanta Thrashers (Don Waddell) and Edmonton Oilers (Kevin Lowe) are among the rare teams who moved struggling general managers out of those positions instead of firing them, so it’s not an unprecedented decision – even if it’s far from an ideal one.

Either way, the point is that the Hurricanes’ problems run much deeper than just their embattled head coach.