Skip to main content


Rutherford: 'I’m disappointed in the job I’ve done to this point'

Jim Rutherford Canucks Jim Rutherford - The Canadian Press

In a wide-ranging media availability on Monday, Vancouver Canucks president Jim Rutherford said he's "disappointed" in the job he's done in his time with the club and admitted to speaking to parties outside of the team about the club's head coaching role with rumours about Bruce Boudreau's future swirling.

Rutherford and the team's medical staff spoke following the club's announcement of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the season-ending hand injury to forward Tanner Pearson.

"I’m disappointed in the job I’ve done to this point," Rutherford said.

The 73-year-old Rutherford joined the team in December of 2021 and likened the work required with the team "major surgery" after initially believing only "minor surgery" was required.

"We may have to do some things beyond what I thought we might have to," Rutherford said.

Rutherford noted that the team is hamstrung by particular contracts that have made it difficult for the team to move forward.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to take those steps [to move forward]…we’re stuck with contracts that we can’t move. Until we move those out or until they expire, it’s going to be hard to take those steps," Rutherford said.

Rutherford insisted that forward JT Miller's deal is not among them. Miller's seven-year, $56 million extension with the team is set to kick in next season when the player will be 30.

“The cap is going to keep going up and up," Rutherford said. "The cap is going to be $90 or $95 million. That contract isn’t going to affect what the Canucks do down the road.”

Later in his availability, Rutherford floated the idea of buying out "underperforming" players in the summer.

As for the expiring contract of captain Bo Horvat, Rutherford said the team had made its most competitive offer to retain him, but is unsure whether or not that will be enough.

“We’re in a pickle here," Rutherford said. "He’s had a career run and he’s looking for his money.”

With rumours abounding regarding Rick Tocchet potentially coming in as head coach, Rutherford wouldn't deny that he had spoken to external candidates about the job, but the role was still Boudreau's.

“All I can say is that Bruce is our coach right now,” Rutherford said, noting that a change might not even be imminent. "But with that [said] I’m calling and talking, but don’t know that we’re making a change and don’t want to make a change.”

Asked about the team potentially tanking, Rutherford deadpanned.

"I thought we were tanking," Rutherford said. "We're pretty close to the bottom."

In regards to Pearson, Rutherford said he wanted to look into the matter following comments made by defenceman Quinn Hughes last week.

“When I heard the comments last week, it was comments that I had never heard before…I felt immediately it had to be looked into," Rutherford said.

To his knowledge, Rutherford said, Pearson did not register any concerns into his injury and recovery after speaking to those on the staff who would know.

“I asked them if Tanner had expressed any concern about the way his situation was handled and I couldn’t find one person [who said he did],” Rutherford said.

Team doctor William Regan noted that privacy concerns mean that he could only speak generally into Pearson's situation, but noted that "complications do arise" in any surgery and recovery.

“I will tell you that in this case that the surgeons involved with Tanner Pearson are experienced and internationally known," Regan said.

Regan declined to answer when asked how many procedures in total Pearson underwent and would not comment on any potential prognosis or timeline into Pearson's recovery, but noted that he and his staff have retained the confidence of the players.

“There’s been no change," Regan said of the relationship with the players. "There’s been full confidence in the staff…the whole staff has been vetted…there’s been no loss of confidence."

Rutherford said he has yet to be contacted by the league or the NHLPA in regards to Pearson, but would fully cooperate should they decide to open their own investigation.

Asked if he was worried that Pearson's situation could harm the team's ability to attract free agents, Rutherford said no and noted the team is being as transparent as it can.

“Certainly, we’re not happy with what’s going on, but for the most part, these injures have gone through the course they’d take…I don’t think it should be viewed that they will happen all the time…people want the information, but there are laws, privacy laws in Canada…we would be in trouble if we [gave it out]," Rutherford said.

A native of Kitchener, Ont., the 30-year-old Pearson incurred the injury during a Nov. 9 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The initial prognosis had Pearson returning in four to six weeks, but last Thursday, the team announced that the player underwent another procedure and would miss the rest of the season.

Pearson was in his 10th NHL season and fifth in Vancouver. In the 14 games he played prior to the injury, he had a goal and four assists. He was in the second year of a three-year, $9.75 million deal.

Later on Thursday following a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hughes expressed dissatisfaction with the way the team dealt with Pearson's injury.

“I feel bad for him," Hughes said. "I mean, it wasn’t handled properly, and you know, it’s not really a good situation he’s got there and hopefully, he’s going to be all right."

Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau said that he was unaware of the specific issue and couldn't say if the team should have acted differently in Pearson's recovery.

“I have no idea, that’s not my call," Boudreau said. “I really like Tanner a lot and so it really is sad news. Here’s a guy, he’s over 30 and you lose a year? It’s really tough and I feel for him. But I know he’ll come back stronger than ever.”

Through 43 games, the Canucks are 18-22-3 with 39 points and sit sixth in the Pacific Division. They trail the Edmonton Oilers by 12 points for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.