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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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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 69 21 28 -11 49
J. Faulk 74 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 73 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 69 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 72 11 20 -11 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 70 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 74 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 46 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 38 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62