Suffice it to say Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos isn’t the biggest fan of Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford.
After Rutherford made headlines by acquiring Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs as free agency opened, Karmanos took several shots at how Rutherford has been running the Penguins.
“Pittsburgh has no first-round picks anymore. They traded their first-round pick from the year before. They traded their first-round pick for this year, and now they’ve traded their first-round pick for next year,” Karmanos told media near Raleigh, N.C. Wednesday. “But they have Kessel, who may score as many goals as, uh, Alex Semin did. And I don’t have to take credit for that.”
Karmanos and Rutherford had worked together for two decades starting from the time they, along with the late Thomas Thewes, partnered to buy the Hartford Whalers in 1994.
Rutherford served as GM of the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise for 20 years before stepping down as Hurricanes GM last April after his team missed the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. He became Penguins GM last June.
During his last few years in Carolina, Rutherford made some questionable decisions including signing Alexander Semin to a five-year, $35-million contract – the Hurricanes bought him out earlier this week.
Karmanos went on to explain why he prefers how current Hurricanes GM Ron Francis does business.
“Ron is far more inclusive, so he’s asking a lot of questions and I give him my opinion,” Karmanos said. “He’s far more astute on the financial end of the game. Jim liked to talk about the fact that we’re a budget team. I’m not sure what that ever meant. Every team has a budget. That means we had a budget until Jim needed a player, then I’d say, ‘okay,’ and we had a different budget. Ronnie is a no-nonsense guy when it comes to those kinds of contracts. He’s not worried that he might get criticized if his team doesn’t do as well as people think it should. So he doesn’t panic when it comes to signing players or worrying about that type of thing. “
Coincidentally, Karmanos’s son, Jason Karmanos, left the Hurricanes after spending 15 years in the organization to join Rutherford in Pittsburgh in June 2014. He was named vice president of hockey operations.