As a kid growing up an hour north of Toronto, Jim Rutherford once attended the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
“It was a day where I thought, man, this is really special,” Rutherford said Tuesday.
In November, three Stanley Cups later, he’ll get his chance on the stage. The former Carolina Hurricanes general manager was announced Tuesday as one of two builders in the Hall of Fame’s class of 2019, joining Boston College coach Jerry York and players Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky, Hayley Wickenheiser and Sergei Zubov.
“It’s something you don’t think about a lot, but there’s times where you pause and dream about it,” Rutherford said.
As a goalie, Rutherford played 459 games in the NHL, mostly for the Detroit Red Wings, and was as well known for being one of the first goalies to play with a decorated mask as he was for his play in the net. Former Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos dragged him into management, first in 1984 with Karmanos’ junior hockey team and later with the Hartford Whalers and then the Hurricanes.
“I kind of worked my way up,” Rutherford said. “I think the longevity for me is the fact that I’ve worked with really good people. We won the Stanley Cup in Carolina against the odds. We certainly weren’t odds-on favorites to win it that year. Then I was fortunate to have the opp to be hired by Pittsburgh.”
Rutherford, 70, joins Karmanos and Francis in the Hall of Fame. Another former Hurricanes captain, Rod Brind’Amour, was passed over by the committee for the seventh straight year. There may be some hope for him in this year’s selections: Zubov waited eight years and Carbonneau 19, and like Brind’Amour, was an elite defensive forward
The Hurricanes, though, were not shut out thanks to Rutherford, who still owns a home in Raleigh and spent almost two decades here.
“It’s hard to put in words how much I appreciate this,” Rutherford said. “It’s such a humbling last hour or two here.”
Staff writer Chip Alexander contributed to this report