Canes' Rutherford expected to give up GM duties at end of the season

calexander@newsobserver.comMarch 24, 2014 

CANES01.SP.051811.CCS

Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford holds a press conference at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. on May 17, 2011.

CHRIS SEWARD — CHRIS SEWARD - cseward@newsobserver.com

  • Highlights of Rutherford’s regime

    •  Hurricanes win Stanley Cup, 2006.

    •  Hurricanes reach Stanley Cup finals, 2002.

    •  Named “Executive of the Year” by The Hockey News 2002, 2006.

    •  Voted “Executive of Year” by NHL general managers, 2006.

    •  Named Triangle’s “Businessperson of the Year” by the Triangle Business Journal, 2006.

    •  Hurricanes named top hockey franchise and second-ranked franchise in all pro sports by ESPN in the “Ultimate Standings,” 2009.

    •  Hurricanes host 2004 Draft

    •  Hurricanes host All-Star Weekend 2011.

Jim Rutherford, who helped build the Carolina Hurricanes into a Stanley Cup champion in 2006, is expected to step down as the team’s general manager at the end of the season.

Rutherford, 65, serves as president and general manager of the Hurricanes. Sources close to the team say he could remain president, although that decision has not been made.

Rutherford, contacted Monday, said he did not want to comment on his situation with the team or any potential changes until the 2013-14 season is completed.

It’s expected Ron Francis, the Hurricanes’ vice president of hockey operations, will succeed Rutherford as general manager. That decision will be made by team owner Peter Karmanos Jr.

Since winning the Stanley Cup, the Hurricanes reached the playoffs just once – in 2009, being eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. The Canes are 31-31-9 this season and were nine points out of a playoff position before Monday’s games, creating uneasiness among many fans.

Canes coach Kirk Muller has a year remaining on his contract after this season. It is not known if changes in management would affect Muller’s position.

Rutherford has been a part of the franchise since 1994, when an ownership group that included Karmanos, the late Thomas Thewes and Rutherford bought the Hartford Whalers. The franchise relocated to North Carolina in 1997, reached the Stanley Cup final in 2002 and then won the Cup four years later.

Rutherford was named “Executive of the Year” in the NHL in 2002 and 2006 by The Hockey News.

Rutherford became a part of an investment group in the Hurricanes in November 2011, although Karmanos is majority owner.

Francis, 51, served as the Hurricanes’ captain and helped guide the team to the 2002 Cup finals. A two-time Cup winner with the Penguins, he is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Francis has worked closely with Rutherford and handled many of the day-to-day operational duties. He also was associate head coach from December 2008 to June 2011 – when Paul Maurice was the Canes’ coach – before returning to the front office.

Rutherford apparently has been considering retiring as general manager the past couple of years. In an interview Monday, he hinted at retirement while discussing a six-year, $29 million extension signed Monday by defenseman Justin Faulk and the possibility of re-signing other players.

“I think we want to get to the postseason and take a look at what direction we’re going,” he said. “And probably more to the point, what direction I’m going.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945; Twitter: @ice_chip

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