Peter Karmanos and Jim Rutherford used to be really tight and had a professional relationship lasting decades. After some bitter comments made by Karmanos yesterday, that doesn't seem to be the case any longer.
Our SB Nation blog Canes Country was actually at the event and took notes first hand. The whole thing is worth a click, here's the best part:
Early on, he was asked if he felt responsible for the Alexander Semin signing.
"Yes, ultimately, I'm responsible for everything," replied the owner. "I do not have to take responsibility for Pittsburgh signing Kessel, however". (And so it begins.)
We'll cut to the next juicy part about the Pens.
Karmanos went on a bit more about how and why they got their league started, then mentioned that Mike Vellucci was a player for them at that time. Then suddenly, out of the blue he spoke again about Pittsburgh.
"All right, Pittsburgh has no first round picks anymore. They traded their first round pick from the year before. They traded their first round pick this year and they traded their first round pick for next year. But they do have Kessel, who may score as many goals as Alex Semin did. All right? And I don't have to take credit for that."
He then went back again about his program and said that they were lucky, in a way that they were so successful because they had many excellent players.
After that, he said that they will sell the team in Pittsburgh in a couple of years and the cupboard will be pretty bare by that time and spoke more about the Penguins.
Shudder, that's a bit much. Also, for a guy whose team hasn't sniffed the playoffs in 6 (probably going on 7 after 2015-16) years, Karmanos would certainly know an empty cupboard when he saw one, right?
That cattiness aside, Karmanos isn't wrong to be upset about how Alex Semin played out in Carolina. Rutherford signed Semin (a player notorious for low motivation, discipline and effort) to a 5-year, $35-million dollar deal. Semin, predictably, got complacent and produced fewer and fewer points in each of his 3 seasons as a Hurricane.
Semin was so poor (only scoring 6 goals in 57 games after missing time with wrist surgery) that the team, which certainly doesn't need to spend dead money on a buyout, will have to pay him $2.33 million each through 2021 not to play for them. That's going to be 6 long years for Carolina, so I would be bitter too if I were in Karmanos' shoes.
Gotta hurt to see Rutherford leave, luck into managing a Pittsburgh team that makes the playoffs every year and then wheels and deals for another high-priced, goal-scoring forward that Carolina thought they were getting in Semin.
Karmanos, who was just announced as an inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame last week, wasn't still in a giddy mood, he targeted Rutherford again.
"As owner I stay out of what the GM does, but Ron is far more inclusive. He asks more questions and I give him my opinion, but I also tell him to do what he wants to do, I'm not going to second guess him. He's far more astute on the financial end of the game. Jim liked to talk about the fact that we're a budget team, I'm not sure what that ever meant. Every team has a budget. That means that we had a budget until Jim needed a player and I said okay. Then we would have a different budget."
Rutherford, of course, has been asked about these comments but has taken the high road and declined to comment and the Penguins are not expected to issue any sort of statement about this. To make matters even more awkward, Jason Karmanos (Peter's son) works for the Penguins as "Vice President of Hockey Operations" and is known as Rutherford's right hand man.
Who knew that 60-year-old men could act like a real-life Taylor Swift song? Like, seriously, they're never, ever getting back together, you guys.