Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford worked from North Carolina at home with his wife and son until the Canucks came through last week and scooped him up. He jumped on the charter to Tennessee and then continued to British Columbia after the Canucks 3-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
He’s here for the long run now, looking to fill out the Vancouver Canucks hockey operations management staff. There’s no guarantee or plan that the general manager has to be hired before the assistants.
“Not necessarily,” Rutherford told Vancouver Hockey Now on Saturday. “There’s a few positions that we’re looking at and need to fill, there could be an assistant filled before. Ideally the GM will be in place for a lot of the decision making that we have coming up, and well before the trade deadline.”
That date falls on March 21st.
VHN asked Rutherford if he already had his GM choice in mind.
“If we made the pick already, we would have announced it,” he said.
There’s no doubt Leksand, Sweden native Patrik Allvin is a strong contender. Based on what we’ve been told by sources in Pittsburgh and Carolina, VHN was prepared to declare Allvin the winner, but Rutherford clearly indicated that he’d be thoroughly completing his due diligence and that he needs to get a couple of more people in to talk to before making a decision.
He also made it clear that Allvin has all of the attributes to be an NHL general manager. Then again, so would the other finalists.
Rutherford also mentioned his appreciation for the efforts and talents of current Abbotsford Canucks General Manager and former Vancouver Canucks player Ryan Johnson.
Current Minnesota Wild General Manager Bill Guerin, 17 years a winger in the National Hockey League and a two-time Stanley Cup Champion as a player, cut his management chops under GM Ray Shero for two years and then Rutherford for six in the Penguins organization, and told us on Friday that he holds Allvin in the highest regard.
The two worked together when Allvin was the club’s European Scouting Director turned Director of Amateur Scouting.
“We worked together for eight years,” Guerin stated. “From the time I arrived until I left the Penguins.”
Guerin started as a player development coach in 2011, became an assistant general manager under Rutherford in 2014, and later added the responsibility of overseeing the AHL affiliate. He took the Wild GM job in 2019.
“He’s definitely one of my favourite people in all of hockey, I mean I worked closely with Patrik,” Guerin said. “He knows the amateur side of things, he knows the development side of things, he’s been an assistant GM now for a few years, so he’s learned that. He’s done pretty much everything there is to do and to learn about the business.”
Allvin, a 47-year-old former defenceman who came to North America in 1995 to play for the Nashville Knights of the ECHL, ended up playing 115 minor league games, including five in the AHL, before returning to Sweden to finish his on-ice career in 2002. That’s when he entered scouting and quickly developed an acumen.
“It’s all about working together and collaborating and I loved working with him every day,” Guerin added. “He’s got a great handle obviously on the European market and was influential in bringing a lot of European free agents to Pittsburgh.”
So it’s full speed ahead in slow motion. The Vancouver Canucks existing staff has had to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with Covid protocols and related player issues. Not to mention provincial rules, travel concerns and avoiding the virus itself. Now at least, after a series of postponements, there’s actual NHL hockey to watch and evaluate with the Canucks set to host a second consecutive home game Sunday night, this time against the St. Louis Blues.
Expect at least one announcement ahead of February 1st.