Tracking the Storm

Rutherford Looking to Make Changes

Monday, 11.2.2009 / 10:37 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Rutherford Looking to Make Changes
While the start to the Hurricanes’ season is disappointing to any observer, it’s most disappointing to the man who put the team together.

Paul Branecky
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“From the player personnel point of view, I take responsibility for the decisions I made,” said General Manager Jim Rutherford, whose team is off to a 2-8-3 start. “I probably should have gone about this a different way, and I take full responsibility for what’s going on. Now I have to fix it.”

No one faulted the GM for keeping the bulk of last season’s Eastern Conference finalists together, or for bringing in free agents Andrew Alberts, Tom Kostopoulos, Aaron Ward and Stephane Yelle, among others. Rutherford shared the widespread optimism surrounding the team over the summer, but hindsight is 20/20 in the Hurricanes’ current nine-game winless streak.

“You try to re-sign everybody and you re-sign players, and they get in a totally different position in their career than they’ve ever been,” said Rutherford, who re-signed Erik Cole, Chad LaRose, Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu from last year’s team. “Maybe we should have had a little bigger change. Maybe we shouldn’t have gone with as many veteran players as we did. I don’t have the answers for it, nobody does, and everybody can guess. Obviously, whatever I did didn’t work.”

Rutherford indicated he would like to make changes to his team, but acknowledged that would be difficult given the early stage of the season. Teams looking to add players take on a bigger financial responsibility now than they would at the trade deadline, and many don’t have substantial cap space following recent off-season signings.

One direction Rutherford may take is giving more responsibility to the team’s talented young players in Albany, such as Drayson Bowman and Zach Boychuk, who have hovered around a point-per-game pace in their first full professional season at the AHL level.

“If we can move certain players, then we can start to transition into the team that we felt we would transition into next year,” said Rutherford. “We do have a lot of good young players now, and I’m not sure that they’re 100 percent ready to play here, but if we’re not going to win with a veteran team then we may as well transition sooner rather than later.”

However, bringing those players up earlier than anticipated remains a concern.

“It’s a little bit of a juggling act,” said Rutherford. “You can just see in the few games that Brandon Sutter has played how much better of a player he is than he was a year ago. He’s played some games now in the minors, and then he comes in here with some confidence. Even as good as he’s played, I still wish he could play more in the minors to give him an even stronger position than where he is today.”

Rutherford didn’t suggest that a movement of any kind was imminent, partly due to the difficulty of making trades in November and partly due to the fact that it’s still early in the season. While he said he’d ideally like to wait until the end of the month for any major shake-up, the team’s play over the next few weeks may force his hand.

“We owe it to our fans every year to be a playoff team, and if I feel that we’re just getting into too deep of a hole then I’ll accelerate it,” he said. “If I still think that this team can turn it around, then we’ll keep going in the direction that we’re going.

“I’ve seen enough to where I’m as disappointed as I’ve ever been in a team,” he added. “I still know that there’s enough here to make that turn, but when you watch what we’ve all watched here in the last week, it makes you wonder if it’s going to turn.”


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72