Rutherford candid on state of Canucks: 'We have to do major surgery'
Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said he's "disappointed" in the job he's done assembling a team in the throes of a dramatic and frustrating 2022-23 campaign.
"When I came here, I knew it was going to be a big challenge," Rutherford said Monday during a wide-ranging press conference, according to Sportsnet. "And I thought, 'We're going to have to do minor surgery.' ... Have I changed my position? Yeah, we have to do major surgery."
The 73-year-old executive joined the Canucks' front office in December 2021 after the team parted with ex-head coach Travis Green and former general manager Jim Benning.
Vancouver performed admirably after the midseason shift, finishing the campaign with a 40-30-12 record to sit five points out of a playoff spot.
Instead of building on that hopeful stretch, the Canucks opened this season with a seven-game losing streak. Vancouver is currently sixth in the Pacific Division and sits 12 points out of the Western Conference's second wild-card spot - four months after Boudreau said missing this year's playoffs "would be a disaster" for the team.
Those developments have forced Rutherford to consider drastic measures.
"When I first came here, I talked about getting control of the cap ... getting rid of some contracts, and we haven't been able to do that," he said. "Now, the opportunity hasn't been there, but it's still my job to get it done. Until we do that, we're not gonna be able to make the kind of changes that we need to make. ... It could end up being core players."
He added: "Between now and the start of next season, we're gonna have to make some changes. Some won't be very popular, some will be popular. But we're gonna have to really do some things that I didn't think we would normally have to do when I first got here."
Rutherford said he will explore buying out some contracts this offseason if he can't move them.
One player who may soon depart Vancouver is captain Bo Horvat. The 27-year-old is enjoying a career year as a pending unrestricted free agent, notching 30 goals and 48 points in 43 contests.
"I believe we've taken our best shot, and the contract we have on the table for Bo right now, I think, is a fair contract for what he's done up until this year," Rutherford said. "But it's certainly under market value for what he's done this year. So, we're in a pickle here. ... He's looking for his money; he deserves it. I don't blame him."
Rumors are also swirling about Boudreau's future as head coach. Rutherford admitted he has spoken with external candidates but said the job belongs to the veteran bench boss for now.
- McDavid, Vasilevskiy among top picks in NHLPA Player Poll
- Canucks' Hughes: Any critic of my defensive ability 'doesn't watch me play'
- 'No one fears a defensive team': What's driving hockey's offensive boom
- Clutterbuck scores twice as Islanders thump Maple Leafs
- Teravainen scores late, Hurricanes rally to beat Rangers