Rumor: Failed trade that led to Rutherford's resignation involved the Leafs & Habs.

Some new details from an NHL insider.


Although the dust has already settled and the Pittsburgh Penguins have already moved on and are looking for a new general manager, there remain a ton of unanswered questions about what really happened in the final days of Jim Rutherford's tenure as GM of the Penguins. 

The reality is that we may have to wait a very long time to get the full story on this one, and in fact we may never get all of the details, but already a clearer picture of what went down is starting to emerge. Early on there was a narrative that a failed trade or a trade that was rejected by Penguins ownership was at the root of Rutherford's decision to leave the team and this week National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman all but confirmed that news when discussing Rutherford's exit on his podcast. 

First Friedman began by touching on things more generally, speaking of the departure of trusted Rutherford ally Jason Karmanos and touching on how the vision of the team from ownership and Rutherford's own vision seemed to diverge from one another in the end.

"Like I said Jim Rutherford was extremely careful of covid, and good on him," began Friedman on his podcast. "I do think the Karmanos thing was a factor, that he wasn't there anymore to kind of be his buffer. I do believe there was a philosophical difference.... I think he saw a path that may have involved changing the group a little bit and I don't think the Penguins were interested in that.

"I just think philosophically the two sides grew apart and didn't see it the same way and it was time to make the change."

Where things got more interesting however was when Friedman touched on some of the bigger rumors out there, including the possibility that Penguins defenseman Kris Letang may have been the player involved.

"I know there is a lot of these Letang rumors, I can't confirm or deny. Honestly I don't know," admitted Friedman.

"I do think Rutherford was looking around at some potential moves, they wouldn't tell me what the trade was."

What he did do though however was drop the names of two players that may have been involved, names that suggest this trade would have been with either the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal Canadiens.

"I do think there was something out there that Rutherford was working on that died last week. I don''t know if it was Victor Mete, I don't know if it was Travis Dermott... but there's definitely a sense that he was working on something that ended when the GM change happened."

This suggests that, up until the very moment that Rutherford tended his resignation, the trade was still very much alive. It certainly lends credence to the rumor that ownership stepped in to block the move, causing Rutherford to resign as a result.