Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, a Hockey Hall of Famer who helped lead the team to a pair of Stanley Cup titles, resigned abruptly on Wednesday.
The 71-year-old Rutherford cited “personal reasons” in making the decision. He was under contract through the 2021-22 season.
The club promoted assistant general manager Patrick Allvin to serve as general manager on an interim basis while the club searches for a permanent replacement.
Rutherford arrived in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2014 following the team's second-round flameout against the New York Rangers.
Following an uneven first season in which the Penguins made little headway under head coach Mike Johnston, Rutherford's rebuild picked up steam in December 2015 when he replaced Johnston with Mike Sullivan and created a roster around stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin built on speed.
The Penguins won consecutive Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, the first team in a generation to successfully defend its championship. Rutherford's resignation comes with Pittsburgh off to a solid 4-2-1 start.
“It has been a great honour to serve as general manager of the Penguins, and to hang two more Stanley Cup banners at PPG Paints Arena,” Rutherford said in a statement.
“I have so many people to thank, beginning with the owners, Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux, and team president David Morehouse. There always has been so much support from everyone involved with the Penguins, both on the hockey and business staffs, and, of course, from a special group of players led by Sidney Crosby.”
Morehouse, the Penguins president and CEO, called Rutherford, a journeyman goaltender during his 13-year NHL career before becoming one of the most successful executives of the 21st century “an amazing representative of the Pittsburgh Penguins and he’ll always have a special place in our team’s history, his own legacy.”
The ebullient and relentlessly upbeat Rutherford joined the Hartford Whalers in 1994 and was general manager in 2006 when the franchise — which relocated from Hartford to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1997 and became the Carolina Hurricanes — won its only Stanley Cup in 2006.
Rutherford moved to Pittsburgh in June 2014, tasked with trying to reverse the Penguins' fortunes. Crosby and Malkin guided the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 and 2009, losing to Detroit in '08 before edging the Red Wings in a rematch the following year. The success, however, faded and the team parted ways with general manager Ray Shero and replaced him with Rutherford.
Early in his tenure Rutherford raised eyebrows by putting a timetable on his involvement. He quickly walked it back, however, and Pittsburgh sprinted to a pair of championships with a group built on speed and grit, much of it developed in the farm system or via trade under Rutherford's watch. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019.
Allvin has been a fixture in the Penguins organization since 2006, beginning as a scout before eventually serving as the director of scouting from 2017-20 before being promoted to assistant general manager last November.