In a stunning move, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford resigned Wednesday, citing personal reasons.
“There always has been so much support from everyone involved with the Penguins, both on the hockey and business staffs, and, of course, from a special group of players led by Sidney Crosby,” Rutherford said in a statement. “The fans here have been tremendous to me and my family. I know it’s a little unusual to have this happen during a season, but just felt this was the right time to step away.”
Patrik Allvin, who had recently been promoted to Penguins assistant general manager, will serve as interim GM as the team begins an immediate search for Rutherford’s successor. According to the team, Allvin will consult with Mario Lemieux, the team’s Hall of Fame owner, for input and advice during the interim period.
In a news conference later Wednesday, Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said he was shocked by Rutherford’s decision. The two talked Tuesday night and again Wednesday, but Rutherford “had made his mind up,” according to Morehouse.
“There is nothing wrong with Jim Rutherford’s health, I can tell you that,” Morehouse said. “He is perfectly healthy. I just wanted to make that clear.”
Morehouse could not elaborate on Rutherford’s rationale for stepping away, saying: “I don’t think there was any one thing that led to Jim resigning.” Rutherford’s contract with the Penguins expired in June, sources said.
Rutherford, 71, had been Penguins general manager since the 2014-15 season. The Penguins made the playoffs in each of his six seasons, winning Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, and Rutherford was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019. Before joining the Penguins, Rutherford had a 20-year run as president and general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise from 1994 to 2015 and won a Stanley Cup in Carolina in 2006.
“Absolutely shocked,” a rival general manager told ESPN in a text message. “Did not see this coming.”
Rutherford, who had a 13-year career as a goaltender in the NHL, was known as a wheeler and dealer during his time with the Penguins, constantly trying to retool the cast around Crosby and Evgeni Malkin — especially over the past two seasons, as he tried to engineer another championship run with the aging core. Two years ago, he shipped Phil Kessel to Arizona, then last year sent Patric Hornqvist to Florida.
Morehouse said the Penguins are “not in building mode” but rather “win-now mode,” which will be reflected in the hiring of the next general manager. According to Morehouse, the Penguins are looking for a candidate who is like Rutherford and can think outside the box and be aggressive.
Allvin, a 46-year-old native of Falun, Sweden, is in his 15th year with the Penguins’ hockey operations staff. He began as a scout in 2006 and worked his way up until he was promoted to assistant general manager in November.