Jim Rutherford was willing to admit his mistake.
The Hurricanes general manager told Brady & Lang on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Tuesday morning that signing Tomas Kaberle was an obvious error in judgment.
“This was a deal that quite frankly I didn’t read the situation the way I should’ve,” Rutherford explained. “I should’ve known what it’s like for guys after they win the Stanley Cup. Based on where the team was at, it wasn’t the direction that I should’ve gone in.”
Kaberle, who who had only nine points with a minus-12 rating in 29 games with Carolina, didn’t quite fit in with the Hurricanes, and Rutherford noticed it right away.
“It was tough for Tomas,” the Hurricanes GM said. “He had a short summer. He was a little bit behind when he came into camp and didn’t really catch up … Fortunately, I was able to make a deal and clear it up for the future.”
Rutherford, who signed Kaberle to a three-year, $12.75-million contract in July, was relieved he was able to trade Kaberle to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for defencman Jarsolav Spacek.
“Spacek is a good veteran NHL defenceman and a guy we followed for a long time,” Rutherford said. “Certainly back to 2006, when we got to see him at his best in the finals … This is a deal that works for both teams. Montreal wanted to help their power-play, which Tomas is still really good at. We were trying to clear the decks for next year.”
It’s been a troublesome year for the Hurricanes thus far. Carolina, which sits in last place in the Eastern Conference, has already made a coaching change and hasn’t recovered from losing key players in the off-season.
“We are one of those teams that’s taken a step back,” Rutherford told Brady & Lang. “We lost (Eric) Cole. We traded (Joe) Corvo, and we haven’t been getting much production from our defence. We’re a couple of good forwards short of being a good team. I don’t think our team has really gelled together as a group. It all adds up.”
Rutherford is happy with what he’s seen out of new head coach Kirk Muller so far and is pleased with the team’s direction and long-term plan.
“Since Kirk has taken over, he’s made adjustments,” Rutherford said. “Our compete level has been very good. We have a bright future. We have a very good AHL team. We’re going to go into a tough division next year with a lot of good teams. We have to build our team a little bit different, and we should be able to compete within the next few years.”
The Hurricanes are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games and remain nine points out of a playoff spot.
“We’ve dug ourselves a hole,” Rutherford said. “It may very well be too deep to get out of.”