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Tracking the Storm

Rutherford Looking to Make Changes

Monday, 11.02.2009 / 10:37 AM / 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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 51 32 15 4 166 133 68
2 MTL 49 32 14 3 130 111 67
3 DET 50 29 12 9 149 129 67
4 NYI 49 32 16 1 158 139 65
5 PIT 50 28 14 8 145 129 64
6 BOS 50 27 16 7 134 124 61
7 NYR 47 28 15 4 139 112 60
8 WSH 50 25 15 10 147 129 60
9 FLA 47 21 16 10 115 132 52
10 PHI 51 22 22 7 140 151 51
11 OTT 48 20 19 9 136 136 49
12 TOR 51 22 25 4 144 156 48
13 NJD 50 19 22 9 113 138 47
14 CBJ 48 21 24 3 120 151 45
15 CAR 49 17 26 6 105 129 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 44 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 49 10 19 -15 29
E. Lindholm 48 9 11 -12 20
R. Nash 49 7 13 -4 20
J. Tlusty 42 12 7 -14 19
J. Skinner 44 10 9 -9 19
N. Gerbe 45 5 13 -7 18
V. Rask 49 6 9 -13 15
A. Sekera 47 1 14 -7 15
J. McClement 49 1 9 -2 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .914 2.41
C. Ward 11 18 4 .913 2.42