The revelation was as stunning as a goal in overtime.
One that ends a team’s season.
And it speaks to all that Jim Rutherford accomplished in his tenure as the general manager of the Penguins that his reign was being celebrated initially upon it’s abrupt conclusion, and that the timing of his departure _ the Pens are seven games into a season they perceive to have championship-contention potential _ was regarded as a relative afterthought.
Seven games after the puck first dropped?
It’s not Rutherford’s health, Pens president and CEO David Morehouse maintained. And there wasn’t anything sinister, confrontational or deal-breaking brewing within the bowels of the organization, nothing that was out of the ordinary in terms of the conversations that were being held or the way decisions were being made of late.
“There was nothing with this team currently that was any different than any of the other teams we’ve had,” Morehouse maintained. “There was nothing different in the form of dialogue.”
Rutherford just decided he’d had enough seven games into a campaign, and the Penguins were fine with that.
“I’m not sure shocking is the right word,” Morehouse added.
Incomprehensible might be a better word
Or unprecedented, given all the circumstances that just don’t add up.
A guy as competitive as Rutherford simply walks away from the quest for another Stanley Cup, abandoning the organization he loves in the process?
And then he tells various reporters and news outlets in the aftermath he isn’t necessarily done with hockey at 71?
There has to be more to it than that, much more.
In an ongoing effort to contemplate those possibilities, here are the Top 10 Reasons, potentially, Rutherford decided to resign from the Penguins:
No. 10: He couldn’t stomach watching another Evgeni Malkin/Kris Letang 2-on-0 breakaway in overtime conclude without a shot on goal.
No. 9: He’s tried and tried and tried to trade Letang, but nobody wants him.
No. 8: He was worried he would have to fire Mike Sullivan at some point if things went south this season, and Rutherford wanted no part of a just-fired/slash/suddenly-angered Mike Sullivan moving forward.
No. 7: The thought of having to find yet another winger for Sid now that Kasperi Kapanen seems to be settling in on the Malkin line was too exhausting to contemplate.
No. 6: He couldn’t stand the thought of hearing “Party Hard” as the Penguins’ goal song after one more Penguins goal.
No. 5: Overtimes and shootouts at the conclusion of games that started at noon on Sundays were too often bleeding into Rutherford’s appointed dinner hour.
No. 4: He was catching himself yelling “shoot the puck” along with everyone else whenever the Penguins were on the power play.
No. 3: The thought of a road trip to Florida included an overwhelming urge to just stay there.
No. 2: “The Pleasure Bar” just isn’t as pleasurable as it was in the 1970s, when Rutherford used to loaf there when he was a goaltender for the Penguins.
And the No. 1 reason Rutherford up and quit on the Pens: The family of Rob Rossi has divested its interests in Dairy Queen, which has rendered unusable one of the greatest GM-to-reporter insults ever hurled in any venue in any sport, “Now go sell ice cream.”
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