Winds of change with Hurricanes?


The chatter around the Hurricanes is that general manager Jim Rutherford might be entering his final stretch at the helm. Rutherford is close to owner Peter Karmanos, but the Hurricanes haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2008-09. The 65-year-old Rutherford must assume some of the blame for that drought. Rutherford has been too liberal with his owner’s checkbook.

Bad contracts include Eric Staal ($8.25 million annually), Alexander Semin ($7 million), Cam Ward ($6.3 million), and Jordan Staal ($6 million). Rutherford didn’t make Edmonton and Boston happy by re-signing Jeff Skinner to a six-year, $34.35 million extension prior to the start of his third NHL season. This allowed Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, fellow 2010 draft picks, to seek and receive similar pre-lockout extensions. These big-ticket contracts don’t offset Rutherford’s shrewd moves, such as acquiring Andrej Sekera from Buffalo or signing Anton Khudobin. The Hurricanes can’t afford to make big mistakes. Ron Francis, the team’s vice president of hockey operations, was being groomed to replace Rutherford. That could happen sooner rather than later.

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