James Earl "Jim" Rutherford - Born February 17, 1949 in Beeton, Ontario is a Canadian former professional ice Hockey goaltender, president and currently general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Rutherford started his junior Hockey career with the Aurora Tigers, playing in both OHA Jr-C & Jr-B with them. He then played with the OHA Hamilton Red Wings from 1968 to 1969, and joined the Montreal Jr. Canadiens for their Memorial Cup run in the spring of 1969. Rutherford played in 6 games, winning all 6, as the Jr. Canadiens won the 1969 Memorial Cup championship.
The Detroit Red Wings as their first choice (10th overall) in the 1969 NHL Entry Draft then selected him. But Rutherford's playing in net with the Red Wings was limited. He played a season and a half for the Fort Worth Wings, their minor-league affiliate in the CHL, and in the 1970-71 season, appeared in 29 games for the Red Wings.
The Pittsburgh Penguins then claimed him in the 1971 NHL Intra-League Draft. As a Penguin, Rutherford played parts of three seasons before being sent back to Detroit with Jack Lynch in exchange for Ron Stackhouse. In his second term as a Red Wings goalie, and over the next 7 seasons, Rutherford would split duties with some of the greatest goalies of that era - Eddie Giacomin, Ron Low, and Rogie Vacho.
Rutherford also represented Team Canada at the World Ice Hockey Championships in 1977 and 1979.
At the start of the 1980-81 season, the Red Wings acquired Giles Gilbert who finally took command of the Red Wings' goal crease. As such, Rutherford was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 4, 1980 for Mark Kirto where he played just 18 games before once again being traded, this time to the Los Angeles Kings for Los Angeles' 5th round pick (Barry Brigley) in the 1981 NHL Draft. Rutherford played in only 8 games for the Kings over the next season, but did play 31 games for the AHL New Haven Nighthawks in 1981-82 season.
Rutherford was signed as a free agent by Detroit, September 13, 1982, his 3rd time with the Detroit organization, playing in 1 game before being sent to their minor-league affiliate AHL Adirondack Red Wings, where he finished his playing career.
After retiring, Rutherford coached and managed the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL from 1984 to 1988, the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors from 1990 to 1992 and was the President / GM of the Detroit Jr. Red Wings from 1992 to 1994.
In 1994, Rutherford joined the Hartford Whalers as a minority owner and served as President / GM for the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes and won three division titles, also winning his 1st Stanley Cup as GM with the Hurricanes in 2006, who also went to the Cup Final in 2002.
Rutherford joined the Pittsburgh Penguins club as General Manager in June, 2014 and was also named Executive Vice-President of Hockey Operations in 2015. Rutherford started to make changes right away with the Penguins, some of which were controversial, but silenced his critics by winning back to back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 & 2017. Rutherford is still with the Penguins.
On June 23, 2016, Jim Rutherford won the 2015-16 NHL General Manager of the Year Award.
Besides winning a Memorial Cup and 3 Stanley Cups, Rutherford was one of the pioneers (Gerry Cheevers too) of the popular trend of Hockey goalies decorating their masks. When Rutherford was traded from Pittsburgh back to Detroit during the 1973-74 season, he wasn’t happy about the move and instructed his mask maker Greg Harrison to paint his blue mask white, with no other designs.
“Our first game was in Toronto,” Rutherford recalled in 2016. “I met Detroit in Toronto. It was Hockey Night in Canada, on Saturday night. I told my mask maker to meet me at the airport and paint my blue mask white. I said, ‘Don’t be painting it red. Just paint it white.’
“He came in the next day for the morning skate. It was in a box. He pulled it out. Had the Red Wings painted over the eyes. I was really ticked. We won the game that night, 4-2. The game was broadcast across Canada. They talked about the mask. They loved the mask, and the rest is history.”