New Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford says he's assembled a list of 40 candidates to fill the role of general manager.
How soon he picks one of them, though, remains up in the air.
“I’m not here to be the general manager, but I’m capable of doing the job," Rutherford said in his introductory press conference in Vancouver on Monday. "I’d like to get somebody in place sooner rather than later. But if it’s not in the (near future), that’s OK."
The former Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes executive also has interim GM listed on his business card as he looks for a full-timer to fill the role following the dismissal of Jim Benning earlier this month.
Rutherford, 72, said his list of potential candidates is divided into two categories. One includes former GMs no longer with their teams, and another with assistant GMs whom he could mentor and work with in Vancouver -- something he said he really enjoys doing. He said he may start making calls as early as Monday night to begin the process.
A more immediate decision, revealed Rutherford, centred around the role of assistant general manager -- a position that could be filled this week.
The Canucks fired Benning and coach Travis Green last Sunday, with Bruce Boudreau immediately named as the replacement for Green.
News of Rutherford's hiring wasn't announced until later in the week -- he was battling an illness when the team was initially seeking a decision about his joining the organization -- but he said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini consulted with him about hiring Boudreau. Rutherford said he told Aquilini he "most definitely" approved of the coaching hire.
"I like Bruce a lot," Rutherford said of Boudreau, who is 4-0 since taking the reins.
The Canucks' organizational changes continued late last week when, one day after Rutherford was hired, the franchise announced the firings of assistant general manager Chris Gear and senior director of hockey operations and analytics Jonathan Wall on Friday. Rutherford was not quoted in the team's press release about those dismissals, and told reporters Monday that he "didn't request any moves."
"I didn't request any moves, but when you're changing the culture, sometimes when you've had people here a long time, it's harder to do," Rutherford said.
"I'm not saying those people couldn't do it," Rutherford added. "But I think the more fresh people we have in there, the easier it's going to be to do."
Rutherford, who said he's had the opportunity to watch a lot of Canucks hockey, was honest in his assessment of the current state of the club:
“I’ll say the obvious,” he told reporters, “I saw what you guys saw in the first 20 games: A team that underperformed. But as I thought more about this team, and what I saw, I saw something in it — and I certainly saw a lot in this franchise and the Canucks brand that I decided that I’m gonna take on this challenge. And I understand it’s a challenge — we all know that — and there’s a lot of work to be done here. That’s why I’m here. I’ll give it my best and we’re gonna do the best we can to change the culture and get to a point where we have a consistent playoff team that can grow into a contender and give us a chance to get to the ultimate goal."