Rutherford’s departure from Carolina sharpens focus on players

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

RALEIGH, N.C. – With Jim Rutherford’s recent move on Friday to assume the duties of executive vice president and general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, all accountability for the Carolina Hurricanes’ future success and failure now rests with Ron Francis and ultimately the players.

With almost six weeks elapsed into his term as the Hurricanes executive vice president and general manager, Francis continues to work to hire a new head coach.

With Rutherford gone, an important sounding board is no longer available to him to use.

Not too much of a big deal as Francis himself pointed out during the team’s press conference back on Apr. 28th when his promotion was announced that he would make his decisions and be his ‘own man’ regardless.

Even if there was any doubt to that fact, it’s much clearer now as everyone inside and outside the organization will clearly understand that what Francis says, goes.

No second-guessing on what JR would think or do in this situation because you know Rutherford would have been asked those questions.

It’s one less distraction for everyone to avoid dealing with, and is a positive situation for an organization that continues to cleanse itself on the management side.

There will be no room for second-guessing or looking in the past as forward-thinking is paramount now.

While missing the playoffs for the past five seasons, there are now even fewer areas to look to and place blame on.

The president and general manager is gone and has been replaced.

The head coach, the second in the last five years, is gone and will be replaced soon.

More change will take place on the hockey operations side once the team’s search for that new head coach is complete.

This all makes Francis’ job easier because while he’s cleaning and reorganizing, the only ones remaining to make it all shine or mess it up are the players.

Once the refurbishment is complete, there won’t be many places in the dressing room or anywhere in PNC Arena or elsewhere that someone can hide.

The lights on the ice surface shine even brighter now.