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Penguins extend general manager Jim Rutherford through 2021-22

Win cups, get to stay

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

At 69-years old, there’s always questions about how long you may want to stay on the job. For Jim Rutherford, the answer has always seemed like “a while”. And now with news today on a contract extension through the 2022 season, it looks like it will be that way.

From a team release:

The Pittsburgh Penguins today signed general manager Jim Rutherford to a three-year contract extension through the 2021-22 season.

The deal extends Rutherford’s existing contract, which was scheduled to run through the current season.

Rutherford, a 69-year-old native of Beeton, Ontario, is in his 25th year as an NHL general manager and his fifth season with the Penguins. He currently ranks eighth in NHL history among general managers in both career wins (850) and games managed (1,834) according to the NHL Stats team.

One of the most successful general managers of his generation, the highlight of Rutherford’s tenure with the Penguins came in 2016 and ’17 when Rutherford managed the club to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Pittsburgh became the NHL’s first repeat champion in 20 years, while Rutherford added two more championships to the one he earned in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes. He became the only GM since the 1967 NHL Expansion to manage multiple teams to Stanley Cup titles.

“We think Jim Rutherford is one of the best general managers in all of sports and, during his tenure in Pittsburgh, arguably the best GM In the NHL,” Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a joint statement. “His goal every year is to win the Stanley Cup and that kind of commitment to excellence is what drives us all. Jim is already a big part of Penguins history with back-to-back championships, but his goal is to achieve even more, and we want to help him do that. We appreciate his continuing dedication to the Penguins.”

“Jim’s body of work speaks for itself,” said David Morehouse, president and CEO of the team. “He is a championship general manager who will someday soon be in the Hall of Fame. Beyond that, he is a tremendous person and a great representative of the Penguins’ franchise, so well-respected around the hockey world. And he’s a true “Pittsburgher” – a straight talker and a stand-up guy. We look forward to working together to achieve more success.”

During the salary cap era, Rutherford is one of only two GMs to win three Stanley Cups, joining Chicago’s Stan Bowman. Dating back to the 1967 NHL Expansion, Rutherford is one of just seven GMs to manage clubs to three or more titles.

Little more than a week after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2016, Rutherford was awarded the NHL General Manager of the Year Award at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas. His peers voted him the winner after his season-long overhaul of the Pens helped the team rise from outside the playoff picture in December to the fourth-best regular-season record in the entire league.

One of the NHL’s most aggressive wheelers and dealers, Rutherford has executed both blockbuster and savvy trades during his tenure, acquiring the likes of Phil Kessel (Toronto), Patric Hornqvist (Nashville), Justin Schultz (Edmonton) and Carl Hagelin (Anaheim). Perhaps his best move came on December 11, 2015 when he promoted Mike Sullivan to head coach.

Earlier this season, the Penguins won their 194th regular-season game under Rutherford on October 27 at Vancouver. Only two general managers in club history – Craig Patrick (575) and Ray Shero (373) – have won more games. With Rutherford leading the hockey operations department, the Penguins have won 234 regular-season and playoff games since the beginning of the 2014-15 campaign. Only the Washington Capitals (249) and Tampa Bay Lightning (240) have more wins. The Pens have won two of the four Stanley Cups handed out during that period.

Before joining the Penguins, Rutherford spent 20 years as the general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes franchise. His team won the Stanley Cup in 2006, made a Cup Final appearance in ’02 and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in ’09.

Rutherford’s time in Carolina included twice being named The Hockey News ‘Executive of the Year’ in 2002 and ’06, and The Sporting News ‘Executive of the Year’ in ’06.

Prior to making the jump to the NHL, Rutherford was one of the top junior hockey executives in the Ontario Hockey League, first with the Windsor Spitfires (1984-88) and then with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors/Jr. Red Wings (1990-94). Rutherford guided the Spitfires to a 1988 OHL championship and a Memorial Cup berth. He was named OHL ‘Executive of the Year’ in 1987 and ’88. Later, Rutherford helped found the first United States-based OHL team in Detroit, which went on to play for the OHL playoff championship in his final year with the franchise.

Included in Rutherford’s 13-year NHL playing career was a three-year stint with the Penguins. He was a 1969 first-round (10th overall) draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings.