Penguins GM Jim Rutherford hoping to replicate important trade
When Jim Rutherford talks about the second act of his managerial career, the one that brought him back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016-17, his first inclination is to be humble.
“I already had a great advantage when you come into a team with (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin and (Kris) Letang,” Rutherford said. “Kind of been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.”
When pressed, though, Rutherford will admit to the role he feels he played in the team’s return to glory.
“We had some interesting changes, really,” Rutherford said. “The first change with bringing (Patric) Hornqvist in for (James) Neal, a guy that scored a lot of goals here, popular player, but I really felt that the culture needed to be changed. I think we just heard that a few months ago. The culture needed to be changed and getting a guy like Hornqvist was a big step to do that.”
Rutherford was reflecting on the success that led to him being chosen Tuesday for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. But he was also talking about the task ahead of him as he looks to reshape his roster following a disappointing first-round playoff exit in April.
It now seems safe to assume his No. 1 goal is to replicate the effect of the Hornqvist trade.
The much-discussed deal that would have sent Phil Kessel to Minnesota for Jason Zucker was a reasonable facsimile. Any trade he’s able to complete the rest of this summer will probably follow the same pattern, too.
After discussing his induction Tuesday afternoon at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Rutherford was asked what he’ll do next.
“Probably back to my office and see if we can change this team like I’ve been trying to do for two months,” Rutherford said. “I still have that drive to be successful. I still think the Penguins can win at least another championship here in the next few years. I’ll enjoy the moment. I’ll enjoy my weekend in Toronto in November. But I still have the drive to win. That’s what I’m going to try and do.”
To continue, apparently, the search for Neal-Hornqvist II.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .