Devils vs. Hurricanes
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 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62