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Rutherford accepts blame for poor start

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Jim Rutherford said he accepts the blame for the Carolina Hurricanes' stumbling start.

With the Hurricanes 2-8-3, 14th in the Eastern Conference and winless in their last nine games, the general manager said today that he still believes in his coaching staff and players. But he said some offseason decisions and the shortening of preseason training camp was a mistake, and said he would be more actively looking to make an early season trade than in most years.

"I'd like to get to the end of November and see where we're at, but it has been so disappointing in the last two home games in how we've played and how we've lost games," he said. "We have a responsibility to our fans to win games and try to win another Cup. We can't dig too deep a hole that we do not have a chance to get to the playoffs.

"I will be talking to other teams more than I usually do at this time of the season, but you need to find a partner to do a deal. It's disappointing for me to do this, but I have to be fair to our fans. It's very disappointing to watch a team that has the ability to win find ways to lose."

The Canes recently called up Brandon Sutter from Albany of the AHL and he has responded well, with goals in the last two games and some heady play. Rutherford had hoped to keep a number of other prospects -- including forwards Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman -- with the River Rats this season and then possibly move them to the big club next season, but that may change.

"We were in position to transition to a younger team in the future but maybe we need to accelerate that," he said. 

Rutherford said that in retrospect, shortening training camp and playing four preseason exhibition games -- the Canes had six preseason games last year -- was not the right thing to do.

"I take full responsibility for what's happened," Rutherford said. "The players probably were not in game shape with too few preseason games. It worked in that our injuries were down, but we were not in game shape."

Canes coach Paul Maurice took over in early December last year when Peter Laviolette was fired and led the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when the Canes won the Stanley Cup. Maurice was given a three-year contract after the season and the coaching staff retained intact.

Asked if he still had faith in Maurice and the staff, Rutheford said, "I do. We have the same system that got us going the second half of the season. We just need better performances from certain guys, from our top players."

One of the responsibilities of a coach is to motivate his team. Has Maurice been lacking in that area?

"I don't see it," Rutherford said. "I watched training camp. I've talked to the players. That is what the players wanted."

Rutherford said he believed re-signing such unrestricted free agents as Erik Cole and Chad LaRose and adding some veteran players to the mix would strengthen the team. 

"I thought it would make the team better but it hasn't," he said.

He said not bringing back defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Anton Babchuk has hurt. Seidenberg, an unrestricted free agent, priced himself too high initially and Babchuk "took a strong position with the team," Rutherford said. Babchuk, a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights, turned down the Canes' qualifying offer and is playing in Russia.

"But it's hard to lose both in the same year and the points they brought to the table," he said.

 

 

 

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Time to get rid of Vista and upgrade to Windows 7.

"We have the same system that got us going the second half of the season. "-JR

That to me is what could be the major problem. Seems most teams have been upgrading and adjusting their system. Either gaining more speed, size, youth or balancing the three.

Let's face it, with Ovechkin, Crosby, and the newbies like Tavares and Stamkos, the style of the game is constantly evolving. JR seems stuck in the days of 2006.

Sutter and his draft classmates are displaying what the new kids on the block are capable of.

"If they rule armies without knowing the arts of complete adaptivity, even if they know what there is to gain, they cannot get people to work for them." Sun Tzu

Who does JR offer up? Under

Who does JR offer up? Under current circumstances, not many Canes are highly marketable to other teams. Whitney is probably at the top of the list. He has 4 goals on just 25 shots, proving that he still has offensive talent. He could help a team that plays sound defense but needs scoring help. At $3.5M he is paid a lot, and he is a UFA at the end of the season. Walker is probably next on the list. He's the only Cane with a positive plus/minus... pretty good under the circumstances. He's also an upcoming UFA.

But if we let go of these two, the Canes had better get somebody good in return... unless JR writes off the season, dumps salary by trading players for future draft picks, and turns 2009-2010 into a training season for Boychuk et al.

Hard to imagine JR acquiring immediate help in exchange for Canes' future draft picks. With attendance falling, the Canes are probably digging a financial hole. Would PK be in the mood to increase total player salaries? I doubt it.

Not the GM's fault

I fully respect JR for taking the blame but I don't agree that it is his fault. JR assessed his team from what he and we all saw in the playoffs. We needed to get bigger and more physical on the blueline. The other big need this team had was a sniper to play with Staal. This team's budget would simply not allow to fill these needs the way we would all would have liked. Adding a Pronger on defense or a Heatley on Staal's wing would sure have been nice but was not going to happen so he had to take some chances on guys like Alberts and Ward and hope that a Cole, Ruutu, or Larose could net 30+ goals. So far it hasn't worked out but I put the blame more on team effort than on team skill. The forwards have not been back-checking or fore-checking the way they need to. The last time I checked it was not the GM's job to motivate the players and make the team work together as a team. As much as I respect JR for taking the blame, this kind of statement really should have come from the coach.

Thanks Chip

For asking J.R. questions about coaching, system, and motivation. Those components have been my major question. Not sure I entirely believe the answers but I will have to live with them.

Out of all the discussions about problems/solutions - how about a simple one: Get Brindy and Corvo contacts so they will stop squinting on the ice all the time. Might help if they see the net to get some pucks in there. Or is that just me???

Careful Now...

Good that Mr. Rutherford sees and admits his errors in judgments, but he must be extra careful now...in trying to fix a problem....that he doesn't give away the company store. He says trades are coming. Good, I think! We put Yelle on waivers and got no takers. Harrison is now on waivers and It'll be a revalation if anyone calls for him. The only people that are tradable are the ones we need to keep. Who among us believer any crafty, business-like GM will take our castoffs? Most of the team is in the minus column and we are hurting. I feel sorry for Rod Brind'Amour...really a warrior... who seems to no longer be capable of playing his best game....and this is our captain. But we will keep him out of loyalty. Well, he does deserve a lot of respect. I want to see Rod go into the "Hall" and as a Hurricane. But I stand firm on my position on four defensemen. They probably try, but I feel they are not NHL caliber players...as witnessed by their league histotry. If any team will take them, let 'em go and thanks for your efforts. So Mr. Rutherford be careful of any trades you make. Grandpa always told me "you get what you pay for." And remember what that 19th century Frenchman said: "The more things change the more they remain the same." ...Spend the money and bring in talent instead of getting marginal people for the bottom dollar. Any trades for the future should not reflect the past! And good luck man....you've got one tough job.

Brind'Amour

The problem as I see it is that Rod Brind'Amour is one of those guys who leads by example. Unfortunately he isn't doing that any more.

60 pts off the blueline. Can you tell NOW?

Hey were not scoring goals and giving them up by the A** load. Cam Ward is a human clay target and Aaron Ward and Alberts are not Babchuk and Seidenberg Offensively wise ,BUT that 60+ points they had look's good right now. The Canes were never scoring leaders aside from the cup run season. Then you take those points off a line-up and you don't replace them with players that score as many goals. Hello? you can't score goals with "smoke and mirrors". Bowman/Boychuk may be on a quicker NHL path than J.R. was hoping for now ,because the Canes gotta score goals NOW. It's not like we are playing a good team defensively-wise now anyway if the young guys can come in and put it in the net bring'em up. The Canes can't get ANY worse!

No goals from anywhere

I agree.  But...   They really aren't scoring from anwhere, any man.

Except maybe Sutter, but we have only 2 games to go on.  He's on a 70 goal a season tear!  :-)

well at least

JR "manned" up and admits he may have been wrong in some things. And many of you do bring reasonable & rational thoughts & ideas. But the botto line is and remains, we are all just spectators waiting to see what will happen and when. After all many of you paid good money for the train ride you are getting...even though none us fans like where the train has gone or how it got to where it is at the moment huh ? So all we fans can do is either keep on riding and hoping that it smooth out and get better, or at the next stop get off and see when the next one is going back to where one came from huh ?

Go Canes!!

Hard questions, but no easy answers...

As a season ticket holder, filled with high expectations, I'm totally dumbfounded and disappointed. We're like an old fighter that loses his skill overnight. It appears at this point that age caught up to this team all at once--we 're lacking in speed, power, and decisiveness. Its too early in the season to give up, but I fear that the RBC will be cavernous this winter and we'll be lucky to get more than 10,000 fans in the barn on a good night. For a fragile franchise, this has all the makings of a disaster, that is compounded by a poor economy. I don't blame JR for worrying-- what looked so promising just 2 months ago now looks like our worst nightmare.

Trades?

Remember the last big trade? Cole left . . .

A team in trouble has little leverage on the trade market. At best JR might unload a few salaries to make room for Boychuk and Bowman. We're sure not going to get a power forward. When do trades solve the problems of a poorly-performing team?

We have only five NHL defensemen, Harrison has always been marginal. That was the fallout of not signing DS or AB. Whether we could have, practically, is open to question. But we might say that in general JR is a little too reluctant to pay for talent in hand (remember Cullen and Ward leaving after the cup, and what that led to?). Maybe it's getting us again, on defense.

Despite the end of last season, we won two playoffs by two last minute goals and an overtime goal--not exactly dominant--before crashing to Pitts. Maybe we're just not very good.

Maybe they'll let Staal rest, and learn to play well when he's not in the lineup.

I'm sure JR would have

I'm sure JR would have preferred to re-sign Seidenberg, but it takes two to tango. Seidenberg was on Mars with his initial salary demand. Given how the defense has played in general, one could argue that Babchuk defensively was no worse last year than what we have seen this season. But Babchuk is still the player that Mo couldn't dare to put on the ice against Pittsburgh. There is no reason to criticize Cole for a lack of point production in just a few games -- especially when everyone now confesses that the pre-season was too loose -- but LaRose has been a disappointment.

My take on the Canes

This is just my take on the Canes. Some is probably wrong in some people's eyes and some of it is probably wrong in general, but it's just what I think. 1. Eric Staal has been playing hurt all year long and has not been 100%. Now he's probably out 2 to 3 weeks trying to play through pain. At the NHL level if your not 100% don't play. Malkin for Pittsburgh is sitting out with an injury that if it was the playoffs he would play through, but why in October 2. Cam Ward is a lot better than Michael Leighton. Anybody who thinks Leighton should start ahead of Ward probably did not watch Saturday. 20% if that of the goals Ward has let in have NOT been because of him. Defense has been horrible. 3. Canes will win with defense first. It takes 5 guys to play defense, but only one to score. We are not that explosive on offense if the opposing team scores more than 3 goals we normally lose. 4. The new off-season (improvements) are not working and chemistry is not there. If i were a general manager its time to get rid of Harrison, Yelle, Conboy, Wallin and Alberts. There was one poster during the summer that complained about them and he was right. They are too slow and penalty machines. 5. Sometimes you do not need to craddle youngsters, the guys from Albany like Boychuk and McBain need to play now. You draft these players to play in the NHL not for Albany. Some trades will probably have to take place for this to happen. Carson and Rodney need to be called up also. 6. FINALLY, MY BIGGEST COMPLAINT: Mo needs to stop messing with line combos. I know there have been some injuries, but when Cullen, Larose, and Whitney are healthy for goodness sakes play them together. Larose is not a 4th line winger dangit. Finally, Brindamour is NOT A WINGER. IF HE HAS TO CENTER THE FOURTH LINE SO BE IT. Line combos should be: Ruutu-Staal-Cole Larose-Cullen-Whitney Samsonov-Jokinen-Sutter Walker-Brindy-Kostapolous or Boychuk

We've been down this road before

For those of you who were here 5 years ago doesn't this sound all to familiar? Unmotivated players, free agents not working out, top playres not playing to their potential, poor system for the players we have. All of this has one common denominator, Paul Maurice! He did it here, then went to Toronto and did it there. Retread players are one thing, but retread COACHES never work out. Todays game is about skill speed and mix in a little grit, not the "TRAP". Maurice wakeup and smell the rotting system. It's time you change or go quietly into the night!

JR and Making Trades

I am pleased that Jim Rutherford is considering seeking some trades. I disagree that the team needs to be entirely rebuilt. There are key core players who are excellent and who have been giving very strong efforts. In my view, Hurricanes team is the strongest group since the Hurricanes came to Raleigh; but the performances have not been up to the talent level of the team. When the team adds one, if not two, power forwards who thrive on crashing the net and have the strength to play with their back to the goalie, the team will be much improved. I agree that transitioning the team toward next year's team is logical, even if there are painful decisions to make. Specifically, to me the core team would include: (1) Staal; (2) Cam Ward; (3) Whitney (even if he is not a young player); (4) Cole; (5) Ruutu; (6) Jokinen; (7) Samsonov (although he is a streaky player, I think he has hustled all year long and adds much to the team); (8) Sutter; (9) Pitkanen; (10) Gleason; (11) Alberts. I believe the Hurricanes should and will keep Kostopoulos. What it points out is how few players who are not core players the Hurricanes have who could interest other teams in a trade. It makes no sense to trade a productive, younger player when the team is in dire straits. It might be necessary to trade a very productive older player if the dynamics of the team have to be changed. It isn't that I think the players who should be considered for trade are the problem or that they are not good NHL players; but if something is going to change via trade, Jim Rutherford will have to trade a player who is a good player.

Making Trades?

Core team?  Kostopolous over Cullen?  LOL!

Have you seen their stats? 

Points:  Cullen 6; Kostopolous 2

PIM:   Cullen 6; Kostopolous 23

 I'll take Cully, thank you very much!

Core team -- Cullen absolutely YES

I apologize. Cullen is a core
player and was on my list until I
apparently typed over his name and
did not catch the typo. Cullen is
a key player for the Hurricanes.

I hope JR is Right and he and or Mo can turn this around

As for what I think..Even with the run last year that started with a good team that lacked defensive responsibility and confidence, Mo should not have been retained this year. The transition to the new Era should have begun...not a return to a past Era that ended in dissaster. After the way Mo's first tenure ended the best case would have been to let him go out on the high note of taking the team to Conference finals...by bringing him back and signing him to 3 year extension...it was a train wreck waiting to happen. I will admit that I would have never expected the train wreck in the first month of the season or even in the first season period...yet here we are with all those memories of Mo's last tenure rushing back to us as we watch this team struggle and quite honestly it is embarrassing. From Conference finals to worst in league for a second time under the same Coach and GM. Hard to watch for this fan. I can only hope JR is right and the tide can be turned...A return to the middle of the pack like we had in the worst Laviolette years would be welcomed now! By the way during 07 and 08 we were riddled with injuries...there are no such excuses now!

Whatever

I don't think any of us thought the moves that Rutherford made during the offseason were detrimental to the team. Seidenberg was the only marginally questionable one, but I don't really think he such a cornerstone to the franchise that signing him would have avoided this start. The moves for Ward and Alberts seemed smart, as did the acquisition of Yelle and Kostopolous.

However, I will never agree with the move of bringing Maurice back, let alone signing him to a three year extension. I think that you could have put anyone in there after Laviolette was removed and the team would have self stimulated. When it finally came down to having to make major adjustments to beat a team, like what happened in the Penguins series, Maurice's true ability came shining down. I don't have anything against the guy personally. I think he is comical enough to be a great color guy during the network game of the week, but a good coach he is not. Not at the NHL level anyway.

only partly JR's fault

JR isn't out there on the ice, so its not all his fault. And Aaron Ward has been slack all season so far. No effort from some players, and lines that don't stay together equals the train wreck we're seeing on the ice. I'm a season ticket holder and I turned my jersey inside out and wore it that way for the rest of Sunday's game at the 4th SJ goal. I won't boo the team, but I ain't happy with them at all

Seidenberg!

I miss Dennis Seidenberg, bring him back! :(

i agree its your fault

 I have great faith that your bargain basement mentality will pull thus season out ....many that post on here said you were right on with not signing the 2 defensemen and getting alberts and ward instead...they are more physical but that hasnt helped us win a game yet  ..Your treatment of babchuck was typical of slave trade mentailty...the calls will soon be heard that mo must go....and just think you were the one that made the bone headed aquistions and failure to keep a succesfull team intact

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at chip.alexander@newsobserver.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.
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