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

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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.