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Here is Rutherford’s first interview.

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Here's the copy/paste if you don't want to click the link:

Ex-Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford ready for a new challenge in Vancouver

Seth Rorabaugh
SETH RORABAUGH   | Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 4:52 p.m.
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Former general manager Jim Rutherford led the Penguins to Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and 2017.

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By the time Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko denied Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois on a backhander to secure the Canucks a 4-3 home shootout win at Rogers Arena on Friday night, it was well into Saturday morning on the East Coast.

To be precise, it was 12:52 a.m. in North Carolina.

That’s where Jim Rutherford stayed up late to watch.

“Of course!” Rutherford laughed. “Of course. I would have stayed up to watch that game whether I was working for them or not. That didn’t change anything for me.”

What has changed for the former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager is his employment status. Less than 11 months after he abruptly resigned from his position with the Penguins, Rutherford was hired as president of hockey operations of the Canucks on Thursday.

Rutherford largely declined to discuss specifics about the Canucks when contacted by the Tribune-Review by phone Saturday. He would prefer to discuss those matters with Vancouver media first and is scheduled to be introduced formally by the Canucks at a press conference Monday.

One thing he did outline is how much his new position — the president of hockey operations — appealed to him.

“When I left Pittsburgh, I wasn’t looking to get another (general manager) job,” said Rutherford, 72. “But I did say if a certain situation came along, that I would consider doing. Even in the last couple of years in Pittsburgh, I started suggesting that president of hockey operations would be my next step. This is the first team that came along that understood what I was looking for.”

The Canucks largely have disappointed this season and are in the process of rebuilding their front office.

On Dec. 6, the Canucks fired general manager Jim Benning, assistant general manager John Weisbrod, head coach Travis Green and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner. Long-time NHL coach Bruce Boudreau was installed as head coach. Then by Friday, assistant general manager Chris Gear and director of hockey operations and analytics Jonathan Wall were fired.

Rutherford will serve as interim general manager while leading a search for a full-time replacement.

What exactly does a president of hockey operations do compared to a general manager?

“The president oversees all the hockey operations and reports directly to the owner,” said Rutherford, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2019. “As the general manager, they do more of the day-to-day work with the players, day-to-day with the media. The president is not quite as hands-on in those situations.

“I’ll still deal with it. It will be part of my job. It will be the general manager bringing that information to me and what his thoughts are and what he’s going to do, things like that. Compared to me being hands-on actually doing those things.”

One thing Rutherford will be doing is working with the 66-year-old Boudreau, a long-time friend. Their orbits in NHL management never crossed until now.

In 1977, Boudreau, then a forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs, scored his first career goal on Rutherford, then a goaltender with the Detroit Red Wings.

“He reminds me every time he sees me,” Rutherford said. “But like I tell him, he couldn’t score on anybody else. He had to score on his friend.”

“Our friendship goes back to in our 20s when we were playing. We knew each other at a young age. It wasn’t a friendship where we were calling each other each week. But we always viewed ourselves and had a respect for each other. And kidded at different times about it would be nice to work together someday. We certainly stretched that out in our careers, that’s for sure.”

The latest step in Rutherford’s career will be considerably different than his time as general manager of the Hartford Whalers-turned-Carolina Hurricanes franchise and the Penguins.

First, he’ll be three time zones away from where he has spent most of his professional life.

“The only thing you have to do is set your clock different,” Rutherford quipped.

Horologic concerns aside, Rutherford acknowledges the demands of running an NHL franchise in a Canadian market are much different than in most United States markets.

“I look forward to being in a Canadian market,” said the native of Beeton, Ontario. “I was born in Canada. Obviously, as a Canadian, love the country. But I do recognize there’s more scrutiny in a Canadian market.”

When he arrived in Pittsburgh as the Penguins’ general manager in 2014, Rutherford had a mandate to “win now” with superstars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin approaching their early 30s. He accomplished that task by winning Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and ’17.

No such directive is in place with the Canucks, at least not yet.

“A better way to say is the two teams would be in a different place in the cycle,” Rutherford said. “I need to get in there and talk to the people that have been there and form my own opinion. As you know, I watch games all the time, all the way through to the late games. So I have watched Vancouver play a lot of games. It’s one thing to have an opinion 3,000 miles away to having an opinion when you’re right in there. I certainly need to gather a lot more information before we get too far down that road.”

Notes: Penguins forward Jake Guentzel was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 6. Guentzel has been wearing a brace (or some sort of protection) on his right hand after blocking a shot. 

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