Hockey / Sports

Penguins tap Jim Rutherford for GM post, fire Dan Bylsma

PITTSBURGH -- Former Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford has been hired as the Pittsburgh Penguins' new GM, and his first official act Friday was to fire head coach Dan Bylsma.

Jason Botterill was promoted to associate general manager, and Bill Guerin and Tom Fitzgerald were promoted to assistant GMs. Botterill had been assistant GM under Ray Shero, who was fired May 16.

Bylsma, who led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009, is the winningest coach in franchise history, with a record of 252-117-32. He had two years remaining on his contract.

Rutherford was introduced at a news conference Friday at Consol Energy Center.

Among his comments:

--He is going to bring analytics into the organization because he doesn't think the Penguins are "up to speed" on them. Someone will be hired for that role in the next few weeks.

--The Penguins don't need "sweeping changes" to get back on top.

--He expects to be general manager for two to three years and said he will be mentoring "two or three guys here who are close to being general managers."

Rutherford was a goaltender for the Penguins in the 1970s and was general manager of the Hurricanes until April, when he was replaced by Ron Francis.

Rutherford had been scheduled to remain with Carolina as team president. He entered the mix for the job just a few days ago, and is believed to have been interviewed only once. Rutherford had been widely regarded as a dark horse to land the position.

There were five other known candidates for the GM job, including two men currently on the Penguins' payroll: assistant GM Jason Botterill and Tom Fitzgerald, assistant to the general manager.

Rutherford, 65, played 13 seasons in the NHL as a goaltender, including two, 1971-72 and 1972-73, with the Penguins after being a first-round choice by Detroit in the 1969 draft. He had 151 career victories with 14 shutouts in 457 games. For five seasons, he was the Red Wings' NHL Players' Association representative.

He got into management as director of hockey operations for Compuware Sports Corp. in 1983, the same year he finished his playing career. In 1984, Compuware bought the junior Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, with Rutherford serving as general manager.

Rutherford helped Windsor reach the 1988 Memorial Cup final, and in 1989 spearheaded Compuware's campaign to bring an OHL club to Detroit, the league's first in the United States.

He was named OHL Executive of the Year in 1987 and 1988, and in 2009 was named the executive on the OHL's all-time team.

Rutherford's days as an NHL GM date to June 28, 1994, when he was named GM and president of the Hartford Whalers, which moved to Carolina in 1997. He also has an ownership stake in the Hurricanes, which he presumably will have to relinquish.

He assembled teams that won three division titles, two conference championships and the Stanley Cup in 2006. In 2009, the Hurricanes advanced to the Eastern Conference final, where they were swept by the Penguins, who went on to win the Cup. Carolina has not qualified for the playoffs since.

Rutherford and Shero orchestrated a big trade on draft day in June 2012. Carolina got center Jordan Staal, with the Penguins getting center Brandon Sutter, defenseman Brian Dumoulin and the No. 8 overall pick in that draft, used to select defenseman Derrick Pouliot.

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