Earlier this week, Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford made an appearance on the Bob McCown Podcast to talk about a number of topics.
Chief among them was a bit more insight into the history of how and why Rutherford and head coach Bruce Boudreau decided to come to Vancouver in December.
“Francesco Aquilini was looking for an answer from me prior to hiring Bruce,” Rutherford said. “I was a little under the weather for five or six days so I told him that I’d have to give him the answer no because I wasn’t ready to make that decision. He said he was going to wait but he really needed to do something with his team and he said, ‘I’d like to change the coach’, and then he talked to me about Bruce. If they had waited for me to get there first, Bruce was one of two guys that I was looking at — probably the top guy on my list — so it worked out fine.”
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Rutherford added that he and Boudreau, who were once teammates for a short period of time, had always talked about working together down the line.
Rutherford also talked about the differences between the teams he had in Pittsburgh to the one he has in front of him in Vancouver, and how the market is different than past ones he’s worked in.
“In Pittsburgh, we were all in every year to win the Stanley Cup, and it was at whatever cost, often a high cost — giving up draft picks and things like that,” said Rutherford. “And in Vancouver now, we’re in a different situation. We’d like to get more draft picks we’re not trading our first round pick. We want to build up the depth in the organization and we want to strengthen the NHL team, so it’s totally a different model.”
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“People are passionate about the team throughout Vancouver and throughout British Columbia,” added Rutherford. “And that’s a nice thing. We’re not trying to grow the sport. I was in a market where we grew the sport from scratch. Then I was in a market that expected to win the Stanley Cup every year, and rightfully so, we had the players to do it. Now I’m in a market that’s passionate about their team and winning, and it’s our responsibility to make this team better and get the team to be a contender on a regular basis. Now with that being said, there’s work to do, but there are good players that are here so we’re certainly not starting from scratch. There’s a lot of good players there, and it’s nice that the team has been competitive over the last seven or eight weeks.”
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Because the team has been competitive since Rutherford and Boudreau have stepped in, this complicates the Canucks’ trade deadline strategy to most outside observers.
One thing that’s been made clear, however, is that Rutherford doesn’t view this team as a contender just yet, and has the end goal of one day bringing the Stanley Cup to Vancouver front of mind when making decisions.
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“Well, my timeline is yesterday,” joked Rutherford when asked what his timeline for making the Canucks a contender is. “That’s the way everybody is, you want to do it as soon as you can, but you have to be realistic about it. There’s a lot of good teams in this league. If you look at the teams that did a total rebuild, it’s nice to see those teams doing well now, but everybody forgets about the four or five years they had to go through — tough years — to get there. I would like to think with the players we have that this team can be retooled and that we can get it to a point that we get more comfortable over a two year period that we can get it to contend again, but I can’t sit here and guarantee that that’s how long it’s gonna take. Sometimes you get some good luck on some players where you make a move and sometimes it doesn’t work out.”
“All I can tell you is I’m very proud of the hockey staff we put together,” Rutherford added. “It’s a diverse group, and we’re going to have different voices that come up through hockey in different ways. I really like that idea. We have the Sedins, they’re very familiar with what’s gone on over the past years. They’re just recently retired players, we have Stan Smyl there, so I like the group of people we have there and we’ll work very hard on it and hopefully we can start to be a playoff team sooner than later.”
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You can listen to the full interview here.