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You Don't Mess Around With Jim

In the toughest round of negotiations yet so far this young off season, Carolina Hurricane's General Manager, Jim Rutherford signed himself to a new 5 year contract yesterday! I'm joking of course as long time friend and confidant, team owner Peter Karmanos obviously approved the deal. I'm sure at this point in their relationship and after putting together a team that just won the Cup recently, JR could have named his own terms and will be GM for the Canes for probably as long as he wishes. Last year's "Executive of the Year" has been the general manager for the franchise since Karmanos bought the club 13 years ago and is currently the second longest tenured GM in the entire NHL! The announcement of the signing is here. Rutherford and Karmanos also held a very interesting joint question and answer press conference. It's interesting how Karmanos talks about how important "continuity" is to the franchise, and I would have to say I agree with him on that. I know several fans dislike "Pete" for a variety of reasons, but the man is patient and must be given credit for bringing a world championship to Raleigh. I consider him to be one of the better owners in the league simply for having the sense to allow Rutherford and others to make decisions and take action based upon their knowledge. Some owners try to do too much or try to have too much control. They hire a GM to do a job, then tie their hands when they want to do something the owner doesn't agree with. Karmanos seems to be able to give his employees freedom and allows them to do what they do best.

Both the Thrashers and Penguins are on the brink of elimination from the playoffs. I'm surprised that Atlanta is going down without a fight. That 7-0 drubbing last night had to make them wonder why they even bothered to qualify for the playoffs. I know some fans are wondering. While changing goalies worked for Laviolette last year, Hartley has over-done it and has switched starting goalies every single game this playoffs. He was playing musical goalies toward the end of the season as well. No wonder Kari Lehtonen has lost his confidence and it certainly didn't help matters having to stay in the whole game for last night's whuppin. That's enough to mess up the kid for next year too! When the blame starts getting tossed around for their failure in the post season, Hartley can start by looking right in the mirror. From what little I've seen of the Pittsburgh and Ottawa series, the Pens have looked pretty good, but the Sens have just looked better. They might be a force to be reckoned with if Buffalo advances. Happy hump day!

Jim Croce