Front office change coming for Canes
Posted March 24, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Multiple sources close to the Carolina Hurricanes said Monday that team president and general manager Jim Rutherford plans to step away from some of his duties after the season.
Rutherford, 65, has been the GM for 20 years and is part of the ownership group. His tenure dates to the team's days in Hartford, Conn., and he has seen the Canes make two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals and win it all in 2006.
Canes play-by-play man Chuck Kaiton told Adam Gold and Joe Ovies on 99.9 FM The Fan said the move had been hinted at, and that the team has a clear line of succession.
"I think a lot of people probably saw that coming when Ron Francis became the assistant general manager after he came out of the coaching box," Kaiton said. "The baton is going to be passed to him."
Rutherford has had conversations in the past saying he would be willing to give up day-to-day management for the good of the team, but he had no comment Monday about his decision and declined to get into specifics of the when and why.
"I will make a decision at the end of the season," Rutherford said.
The Canes are in seventh place in the eight-team Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference and, at 27-35-9, appear to be on the way to a fifth straight postseason on the golf course instead of the ice. Carolina's last playoff appearance came in the 2009 conference finals where they lost in a sweep to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Rutherford's timing likely hinges on that streak and offers a chance for a new perspective in the front office from Francis, who has essentially been learning on the job, Kaiton said.
Francis has had input in recent seasons in scouting, contracts and the draft, and he has demonstrated his eye for hockey talent. Without holding a general manager title, Francis has shown that he is ready for the role.