CEO/GENERAL MANAGER HONORED FOR LEADING TEAM TO CONFERENCE TITLE
RALEIGH, N.C. (July 9, 2002) – Jim Rutherford, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of the Eastern Conference champion Carolina Hurricanes, has been named Executive of the Year for 2002 in the July issue of The Hockey News. The award, which considers both regular season and playoff performance, is announced annually in the season review issue of The Hockey News. Detroit’s Ken Holland, Montreal’s Andre Savard and the New York Islanders’ Mike Milbury were the other finalists for the honor.
“Rutherford¹s knack for making shoestring budget catches is among the reasons why he stood above the NHL suit-and-tie crowd this season,” said Jason Kay, Managing Editor for The Hockey News. “(For a team to be successful) you also need a good architect, and Rutherford was this year’s Frank Lloyd Wright.”
“This is not only about the moves he made during this season, but the draft picks and trades that he and his staff put together leading up to this year. We are rewarding his ability to work with a middle-sized budget and get the most out of it.”
Under Rutherford, the Hurricanes have completed four consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history - compiling a record of 144-123-53-8 over that span. The team captured its first conference championship in 2002 when the Hurricanes defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals and has captured the Southeast Division title in two of the last four seasons. Since moving to North Carolina, the franchise is 177-164-61-8 in the regular season. Rutherford, a former NHL goaltender, has stocked the club with current and former NHL All-Stars through the entry draft, free agency, and trades including Ron Francis, Rod Brind'Amour, Arturs Irbe, Sami Kapanen and Glen Wesley. Rutherford also has a proven history of success in the NHL Entry Draft. With his first draft choice in 1994, Rutherford chose Jeff O'Neill, who last season became the first player to score 40 goals for the franchise since the team relocated to North Carolina. While draft selections like O'Neill, Kapanen, David Tanabe, Josef Vasicek, Jaroslav Svoboda and Erik Cole help form the core of today's Carolina Hurricanes, the Hurricanes under Rutherford have also drafted top level prospects such as Igor Knyazev and Jeff Heerema, who aim to lead the franchise in the future.
A veteran of 13 NHL seasons, Rutherford began his professional goaltending career in 1969 as a first-round selection of the Detroit Red Wings. While playing for Pittsburgh, Toronto, Los Angeles and Detroit, Rutherford played in 457 games and collected 14 career shutouts. For five seasons he also served as the Red Wings' player representative. Rutherford played for Team Canada in the World Championships in Vienna in 1977 and Moscow in 1979.
Rutherford is also involved in several community organizations in North Carolina. He is a board member of the Special Olympics of North Carolina and the Tournament Players’ Club at Wakefield Plantation.