It was quite the surprise when it was announced last week that Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford announced his abrupt resignation from the team citing personal reasons. Rutherford declined to get into specifics about whether his long-term status had anything to do with his exit.
Now the Penguins are in search mode to find their new general manager, and pundits are trying to make sense of Rutherdford’s sudden departure. A rumour came up that the 71-year-old has left over a botched trade that involved defenseman Kris Letang, though none of this was confirmed.
However on Tuesday, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman wrote about Rutherdford’s resignation in his latest 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet and it sounds like another player related issue might be linked to his departure. Here is how it reads:
“I do think one factor that added to internal stress in Pittsburgh was Kasperi Kapanen’s visa issues. Since he’s signed, there was an internal feeling the holdup shouldn’t have happened.”
As you know, Kapanen’s season and Penguins debut was delayed because of a visa issue and the quarantines rules. He not only missed three games but also lost the chance to bond with his new teammates during training camp.
The Penguins acquired Kapanen this offseason from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a package that included their 2020 first-round pick and prospect Filip Hallander. The expectation was that he would solidify the top-six, however, the experiment is taking place now instead of during camp.
Was it Rutherford’s fault? Was this part of his decision to leave the organization? This is another question that gets added to the many others, including, who will take over as new GM of the Penguins?