Tag: Jim Rutherford

Mike Johnston

Pens CEO says Johnston, Rutherford won’t be fired


Despite nearly missing the playoffs and then bowing out in five games to the New York Rangers, Mike Johnston and Jim Rutherford’s jobs are safe.

According to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pens’ executive David Morehouse has “never given any consideration” replacing Johnston or Rutherford.

Molinari reports the Penguins brass believes the season was lost due to injuries. He adds that if the Rangers had been without key defensemen as the Penguins were, it could’ve been a different series.

The Penguins also have no interest in abandoning the “two-center model” featuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Pittsburgh finished the regular season with their lowest point total (98) in an 82-game season since the 2005-06 season (58), which is the last time they failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Pens’ Rutherford to columnist: ‘You’re a (expletive) jerk’

Mike Johnston Press Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has had enough.

Following multiple columns from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Rob Rossi, Rutherford confronted the writer in an elevator on Monday night.

Here’s the backstory.

Nearly two weeks ago, Rossi wrote a column typically reserved for a team that failed to qualify for the playoffs. Rossi criticized Rutherford, who is in his first season at the helm with the Penguins, for a number of failures.

Then last Wednesday, on Day 1 of the playoffs, Rossi wrote a column in defense of head coach Mike Johnston, the gist being that it was Rutherford, not Johnston, to blame for the Penguins’ failures.

Following Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers, Rossi and Rutherford shared an elevator at the Consol Energy Center, which is when the Pens’ executive apparently decided to fire back at the reporter.

Here’s the exchange, according to Rossi:

After exiting a media elevator and while walking with other reporters to the Penguins’ dressing room, Rutherford addressed this columnist, a frequent critic since his hiring last June, in an obscenity-laced diatribe.

“Thanks for your support,” Rutherford said repeatedly.

“You’re a (expletive) jerk,” Rutherford said repeatedly.

Rutherford followed the jerk comment with a suggestion to “go sell ice cream now,” then a challenge to look him in the eye, which I did while explaining my role as Trib Total Media’s lead sports columnist.

My role is to provide opinion.

“Well, your opinion is (expletive),” Rutherford said.

Perhaps the Penguins can channel their GM’s aggression into a win Wednesday night as they look to even their series with the Rangers at two.

Report: Pens’ Maatta to get second opinion on shoulder

St Louis Blues v Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins’ defenseman Olli Maatta is hoping to avoid a second shoulder surgery.

According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Maatta will get a second opinion on his shoulder this week.

The Penguins placed Maatta on injured reserve with shoulder soreness on Saturday.

He had surgery in May to repair a labrum tear and the latest injury is in the same shoulder.

Pens’ GM Jim Rutherford confirmed to Rossi that Maatta would have a second opinion.

It is unknown how long a second surgery would keep Maatta out of the Penguins lineup.

Maatta, who has a goal and nine points in 20 games this season, has not played since Dec. 6.

The 20-year-old missed time in November for surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his thyroid.

Report: Malone, Penguins ‘kicking tires’


According to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune, general manager Jim Rutherford has had discussions with the agent representing former Penguins’ forward Ryan Malone.

Malone, you might remember,  was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning after being arrested for driving under the influence and cocaine possession in April.

The 34-year-old Pittsburgh native was originally a fourth round selection of the Penguins (115th overall in 1999) and spent three seasons with Pittsburgh losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the 2008 Stanley Cup final.

“I have talked to Pittsburgh about him throughout the summer,” Malone’s agent, Mike Liut told the paper. “They’re kicking tires. They’ve expressed some interest, but it’s just that. Which is fine. There isn’t anything where I can say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do.’ Hopefully I can next week.”

As Jason Mackey points out in his piece, the Penguins have already brought in Steve Downie and Daniel Carcillo is attending camp on a professional tryout so it’s hard to see where another project in Malone would fit in.

Malone has scored 20 or more goals six times in his career, but just once in the past four seasons.

“We don’t close the door on anything,” Rutherford said.

Mackey suggests the New York Rangers could also be a suitor for the free agent.

Related: Former Lightning forward Malone ‘shocked’ he had cocaine

It’s Pittsburgh Penguins Day at PHT

Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Pittsburgh Penguins

Another year with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in their prime turned into another year without a Stanley Cup.

The Penguins got an MVP season out of Crosby, who was head and shoulders above everyone last season, but wound up getting bumped out in the second round of the playoffs by the New York Rangers. Making matters worse, the Pens had a 3-1 lead in the series until Henrik Lundqvist turned into brick wall.

Crosby struggled in the postseason and not just because of Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky’s heroics. A rumored wrist injury may or may not have slowed him down. He also didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates. Outside of Malkin, Jussi Jokinen, and Matt Niskanen others failed to show up. James Neal, Chris Kunitz, and Kris Letang all had lackluster performances.

The Pens got a breakout season from 19-year-old Olli Maatta on defense and managed to dance around a stroke to Letang during the regular season to have a solid year on the blue line. Niskanen’s big season helped soften the blow of losing Letang and Paul Martin was steady as well.

In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury was steady as anyone putting up a .915 save percentage both in the regular season and playoffs. While he’s always easy to point the finger at when things go south, he wasn’t Pittsburgh’s problem last season. A lack of strong forward depth, especially in the wake of losing Pascal Dupuis for the season, and defensive injuries helped make life a lot harder than it had to be during the season and worse still during the playoffs.

Offseason recap

If was a summer of front office changes for the Pens. Both GM Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma were sent packing and in came former Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford as well as first-time NHL coach Mike Johnston from the WHL Portland Winterhawks. After bowing out to the New York Rangers, that was the last straw for Penguins ownership.

The Pens also made big changes on the ice as well as they traded Neal to Nashville in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik bolted for the truly greener pastures of Washington to join the Capitals. They also let Jokinen, Tanner Glass, and Joe Vitale walk in free agency.

Pittsburgh may have made the sneakiest splashes of the offseason landing former Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff and former Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie on one-year deals. Blake Comeau, along with Spaling, will also help their bottom six be not as easy to push around.