Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford was interviewed by ABC 11′s sportscaster Mark Armstrong yesterday. There was a lot of information in the interview, so let’s look at some important points in the interview.
When asked about the news coming from TSN’s Insider Trading report on Thursday night that talked about specific players being involved in trade rumors, Jim Rutherford was pretty straight forward about it.
“The names put out there aren’t necessarily available for trade. It may be one or two of the names in a group of names, so you can’t really go by that… I will say that I did meet with Ruutu earlier in the week just to talk about his season and where he’s at, and to suggest to him that he needs to play better and play the way he’s capable of playing, but other than that, I’m not going to respond to the other names.”
When asked if Jim Rutherford was committed to the corp of the Carolina Hurricanes because it is a winning corp, or if it is because he is forced to due to the money he has invested in it, here is what the Carolina Hurricanes GM had to say.
“I’m committed to it at this point in time, but certainly we have to win games and win at the pace that I feel we can win at. If that doesn’t happen, that commitment can go away at the end of the season.”
Armstrong then asked Jim Rutherford if this was the make or brake year for the Carolina Hurricanes. Rutherford was very clear with his answer.
“We made the changes we needed to make to match up with the corp that we had. Our whole organization feels that this is a good team. We’ve underachieved to this point, but now it’s time to win some games and put something together and show what we can do. If we can do that, we can continue on with the mold of this team, and if we don’t, I would suspect that we will start to look at major changes in the off-season.”
Jim Rutherford was then asked if his “major assets” are movable.
“Yeah, it is difficult making trades at this point in time because of the cap system, but certainly with the cap going up by $7 million in the off-season, there will be a limited amount of players in free agency that teams are really going to want. In the off-season, it’s much easier to move them. “
When asked about Jordan Staal, Jim Rutherford seemed very happy with the second-line centerman.
“We look at Jordan Staal as a guy if he can score 20 goals and be a plus player, then we are getting full value from him… It’s not about whether he scores 30 or 40 goals, it’s about whether he can contain those (top-line) players, and right now, he is pretty much on pace to score 20 goals and be a plus player… He’s a unique player that we evaluate differently than maybe the media or the fans would.”
“When we signed Semin, we knew what the possibilities were, and part of that was that he didn’t have the same focus going forward, but if we didn’t give him the contract we gave him, he would have gone back to Russia. He came off a great year, and we are all very disappointed with his production at this time. He’s a guy who is paid to score goals and put up points, and he hasn’t done that. He’s trying to play an east-west game when the rest of the team is playing a north-south game, and he needs to get his act going pretty soon… I do think it’s the focus and the will to do well. The same will to do well that he had in his contract year. He is probably the most skilled player on this team, and when he wants to play, he can do it. He needs to start.”
Jim Rutherford was then asked about the condition of Cam Ward and what to expect from the Carolina Hurricanes star goalie when he returns.
“I think mentally, he has gotten stronger. Physically, he’s not quite ready to play. He was injured earlier in the year, and he came back too soon while he was still hurt, and he probably shouldn’t have done that. He’s been told to make sure he’s 100% when he comes back, and when he does, I think that we will see the Cam Ward that we expect to see.
Jim Rutherford also said that the team will run with three goalies for now, unless a team comes in with an offer they can’t refuse for one of their goalies.
Kirk Muller and the Carolina Hurricanes coaching staff has been under question. Jim Rutherford addressed the coaching staff on Friday.
“I like the way Kirk coaches the team, and I like what he’s done, but inconsistency falls on all of us. It falls on the players, it falls on the coaches, it falls on me.”
Near the end of the interview, Jim Rutherford had a few more comments on the state of the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It’s just a fact, this team should be doing better than it’s doing, so that’s what we expect from here on out.”
Those were the highlights of the interview with Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford with ABC 11′s sportscaster Mark Armstrong. To see the full, uncut interview, click here.
In short, Jim Rutherford seemed very disappointed with the team’s performance, but he will not make a big change just for the sake of making one. This season is the make or break season for the Carolina Hurricanes, and if the Canes don’t make the playoffs, big changes will be made.