President / General Manager
Jim Rutherford, a former National Hockey League goaltender, is the franchise’s seventh general manager and the only general manager in the history of the Carolina Hurricanes. Under Rutherford, the Hurricanes have earned a 515-461-152-20 regular-season record since arriving in North Carolina prior to the 1997-98 season, including a pair of trips to the Stanley Cup Final and the first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history in 2006. Rutherford’s management efforts were recognized in 2002 and 2006, when The Hockey News named him “Executive of the Year,” and in 2006 when he was voted by his NHL management peers as the Sporting News’ “Executive of the Year.” In 2006, he was named the Triangle’s “Businessperson of the Year” by the Triangle Business Journal.
The Hurricanes captured their first Eastern Conference championship in 2002, when they defeated Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals, and again won the Prince of Wales Trophy in 2006 when they defeated Buffalo in seven games. Rutherford brought the first major professional sports championship to North Carolina when the Hurricanes defeated Edmonton 3-1 in the deciding seventh game of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final in Raleigh. The Hurricanes have won the Southeast Division title three times, advanced to the conference finals three of the last nine seasons and established new franchise records for wins and points in a season in 2005-06.
In addition to their on-ice success, the Hurricanes also have been recognized for their impact and success in North Carolina. In 2008, the Turnkey Brand Index rated the team’s brand 20th among North American professional sports teams. In 2009, the Hurricanes were recognized as the top hockey franchise and second-ranked franchise in all of sports by ESPN in the “Ultimate Standings,” a collection of data and survey results that takes into account a team’s on-ice or on-field success as well as its community impact and overall fan experience. An important part of that impact on the Triangle has been the major events that the franchise has attracted to the area. Rutherford spearheaded the efforts to bring the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and the 2011 NHL All-Star Game to Raleigh, both of which were deemed as tremendous successes in both the local and international media.
Rutherford has stocked the current club with bright, young talent through the Entry Draft, free agency and trades, to go along with a base of veteran leadership. He has a proven history of success in the NHL Entry Draft. Selections like Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Jeff Skinner, Justin Faulk and Jamie McBain help to form the core of the current team, while prospects like Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe, Drayson Bowman and Ryan Murphy will play integral roles in the team’s future. Rutherford also acquired several key members of the current team through trades and free agency, including forwards Jordan Staal, Tuomo Ruutu, Chad LaRose, Jussi Jokinen, Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin and defensemen Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen.
Rutherford is in his 19th year as general manager in 2012-13, making him the longest-tenured general manager in franchise history and the second-longest tenured general manager currently serving in the NHL. As president of the Hurricanes, Rutherford oversees the operation of the Hurricanes, the Florida Everblades (ECHL) and the Plymouth Whalers (OHL). He was originally named the team’s president and general manager when the KTR Partnership—the ownership group comprised of Peter Karmanos Jr., Thomas Thewes and Rutherford—purchased the Hartford Whalers on June 28, 1994. In Nov. 2011, the Hurricanes announced that Rutherford was part of a new group of investors who were taking ownership stakes in the team.
A veteran of 13 NHL seasons, Rutherford began his professional goaltending career in 1969 as a first-round selection of the Detroit Red Wings. While playing for Pittsburgh, Toronto, Los Angeles and Detroit, Rutherford appeared in 457 games and collected 14 career shutouts. For five seasons he also served as the Red Wings’ player representative. Rutherford played for Team Canada in the World Championships in Vienna in 1977 and Moscow in 1979.
At the conclusion of his playing career, Rutherford joined Compuware to serve as director of hockey operations for Compuware Sports Corporation. Originally hired in September 1983, he is beginning his 29th season with the Compuware hockey family. With Compuware Sports Corporation in the 1980s, Rutherford gained a wealth of experience in youth hockey and junior programs. He started his management career by guiding Compuware Sports Corporation’s purchase of the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League in April 1984. During the next four years, Rutherford acted as general manager of the Spitfires. In 1988, the Spitfires advanced to the Memorial Cup Finals with a perfect 12-0 run to the OHL Championship. The following season, he led Compuware’s efforts to bring the first American-based OHL franchise to Detroit on Dec. 11, 1989. Rutherford received the 1987 “Executive of the Year” award in both the OHL and the CHL, and won the OHL “Executive of the Year” award again in 1988. In 2009, he was recognized by the Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) as the “All-Time Executive” on its “All-Time Great Team,” which also included forwards Wayne Gretzky, Doug Gilmour and Syl Apps, defensemen Bobby Orr and Rob Blake, goaltender Curtis Joseph and coach Roger Neilson.
Jim and his wife, Leslie, live in North Raleigh with their son James. Jim’s daughter Andrea also lives in Raleigh and teaches visually impaired/blind students for Wake County schools. In addition to his work with the team, Jim serves on the NHL’s Competition Committee and the Board of Directors for Brier Creek Country Club.