In a wide media release Monday, Vancouver Canucks president Jim Rutherford said he is “disappointed” with the job he has put in in his time with the club and admitted to speaking to parties outside the team about the role of head coach of the club with rumors about the future of Bruce Boudreau spinning.
Rutherford and team medical staff spoke following the club’s announcement of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding forward Tanner Pearson’s season-ending hand injury.
“I’m disappointed in the work I’ve done to this point,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford, 73, joined the team in December 2021 and likened the work required to the team’s “major surgery” after initially believing only “minor surgery” was required.
“We may have to do some things beyond what I thought we would have to do,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford noted that the team is crippled by particular contracts that have made it difficult for the team to move forward.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to take those steps [to move forward]…we’re stuck with contracts we can’t move. Until we remove them or until they expire, it’s going to be hard to take those steps,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford insisted that the deal for striker JT Miller is not among them. Miller’s seven-year, $56 million extension with the team will begin next season when the player turns 30.
“The cap will keep going up and up,” Rutherford said. “The cap will be $90 or $95 million. That contract will not affect what the Canucks do in the future.”
Later in his availability, Rutherford floated the idea of buying “underperforming” players in the summer.
As for captain Bo Horvat’s expiring contract, Rutherford said the team had made its most competitive offer to retain him, but he’s not sure if that will be enough or not.
“We’re in a bind here,” Rutherford said. “He’s had a professional career and he’s looking for his money.”
With rumors rife about the possible addition of Rick Tocchet as head coach, Rutherford wouldn’t deny that he had spoken to outside candidates about the job, but the job remained Boudreau’s.
“All I can say is that Bruce is our coach at the moment,” Rutherford said, noting that a change might not be imminent. “But with that [said] I’m calling and talking, but I don’t know if we’re making a change and I don’t want to make a change.”
When asked about the possibility of the team collapsing, Rutherford was deadpan.
“I thought we were going under,” Rutherford said. “We’re pretty close to the bottom.”
Regarding Pearson, Rutherford said he wanted to look into the matter following comments made by defenseman Quinn Hughes last week.
“When I heard the comments last week, they were comments that I had never heard before… I felt right away that I had to look into it,” Rutherford said.
To the best of his knowledge, Rutherford said, Pearson did not register any concerns about his injury and recovery after speaking with staff members who would know.
“I asked them if Tanner had expressed any concerns about the way her situation was handled and I couldn’t find a single person. [who said he did]Rutherford said.
Team doctor William Regan noted that privacy concerns meant he could only speak generally about Pearson’s situation, but noted that “complications arise” with any surgery and recovery.
“I will tell you that in this case the surgeons involved with Tanner Pearson are experienced and internationally known,” Regan said.
Regan declined to answer when asked how many total procedures Pearson underwent and would not comment on any potential prognosis or timeline in Pearson’s recovery, but noted that he and his staff have retained the confidence of the players.
“There have been no changes,” Regan said of the relationship with the players. “There has been full trust in the staff… all staff have been vetted… there has been no loss of trust.”
Rutherford said he has not yet been contacted by the league or the NHLPA regarding Pearson, but would fully cooperate if they decide to open their own investigation.
Asked if he was concerned that the Pearson situation could hurt the team’s ability to attract free agents, Rutherford said no, noting that the team is being as transparent as possible.
“Certainly, we’re not happy with what’s going on, but for the most part, these injuries have run the course they would take…I don’t think they should be considered happening all the time…people want the information, but there are laws, privacy laws in Canada… we would be in trouble if [gave it out]Rutherford said.
A native of Kitchener, Ontario, Pearson, 30, suffered the injury during a November 9 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The initial forecast was for Pearson to return in four to six weeks, but last Thursday, the team announced that the player had another procedure and would miss the rest of the season.
Pearson was in his tenth season in the NHL and his fifth in Vancouver. In the 14 games he played prior to the injury, he scored one goal and four assists. He was in the second year of a three-year, $9.75 million contract.
Later Thursday, following a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hughes expressed his dissatisfaction with the way the team handled Pearson’s injury.
“I feel bad for him,” Hughes said. “I mean, he didn’t handle himself correctly, and you know, it’s not really a good situation that he has in there and hopefully he’ll be okay.”
Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau said he was unaware of the specific issue and could not say whether the team should have acted differently in Pearson’s recovery.
“I have no idea, that’s not my decision,” Boudreau said. “I really like Tanner a lot and it’s really sad news. Here’s a guy, he’s over 30 and you lose a year? It’s really hard and I’m sorry for that but I know he’ll come back stronger than ever.”
Through 43 games, the Canucks are 18-22-3 with 39 points and rank sixth in the Pacific Division. They are 12 points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
#Vancouver #Canucks #Jim #Rutherford #Bruce #Boudreau #Tanner #Pearson #Horvat #Miller #TSN