Pittsburgh Penguins: Jim Rutherford’s Comeback Story

Mar 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Carl Hagelin (62) receives congratulations from defenseman Trevor Daley (6) after scoring in the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Carl Hagelin (62) receives congratulations from defenseman Trevor Daley (6) after scoring in the second period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager Jim Rutherford has made some questionable choices in the past, but this year has been nothing short of redemption. I identify with that, and here’s why.

I know its been a long wait for my incredibly faithful readers, but I’m finally back. None of you actually messaged me asking what happened to me and when I’d be back writing, and there were admittedly more messages thanking me for leaving and wishing for me to never return than I was expecting. Deep down, though, I knew there were likely hundreds if not thousands of you who were just too nervous to message me to wish for my return, and it is for those people that I write today.

And my, oh my, what a time to write for this site again! So many amazing things happened to our Pittsburgh Penguins that I’ve had a hard time deciding exactly where to begin. But after some deep and heavy contemplation I decided to start with the most logical topic: a further explanation of my prolonged absence from writing. I can only assume it’s what you want, and it’s most certainly what you deserve.

It all began as these things usually do, with a tragic case of heartbreak.

Not only did it feel like my heart was ripped from my chest but like my fingers were ripped from my hands. Each time I went to try to write an article it just ended up a metaphorical jumble of words as my metaphorically fingerless hands metaphorically bashed against a metaphorical keyboard.

It was a dark time, and I felt lost and alone, like I can only assume Mike Johnston felt post-firing. Full of doubt and insecurities, I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do next.

It was at that low point, however, that I began to see the similarities between my own position and that of Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. Both of us were put into a position to make a specific person/fanbase very happy, and both of us kept striking out. We now were left with that person/fanbase completely given up on us: sick and tired of our constant disappointments and failures.

But Rutherford wouldn’t go down without a fight. He evaluated his team and their play a few months into the season, and he realized some things.

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His team was old and slow. They played a boring, conservative style. They were in serious danger of missing the playoffs. The fanbase was upset and ready to give up on a team – and a man – that was wasting away another year of their lives. And then, just like that, he changed the narrative.

He brought in Mike Sullivan for Mike Johnston. Carl Hagelin for David Perron. Trevor Daley for Rob Scuderi.

Now the team was fast, exciting, and creative. They were starting to dominate puck possession. The whole lineup was scoring goals and soon enough the team shot up the standings. The fan base was invigorated, excited, and more than anything, believed again. They loved again.

Jim Rutherford went from a pathetic excuse of a GM to not only a cult hero but also a personal inspiration to me. He had dragged himself and his team kicking and screaming out of the pits and back up into a world of success.

So I decided that I also wouldn’t go down without a fight. I also did some self-evaluation and I realized some things as well. I lacked the emotional maturity to have anything even resembling a serious conversation. I was unable to provide her with any sense of comfort during difficult times. My often excessively silly and over-the-top sense of humor has grown stale and unable to procure so much as a smile from a woman who loves to laugh.

Outside of Pittsburgh sports, I had a obvious lack of interests and knowledge of global issues to give any sense of substance to our conversations. She was tired and had given up on a man that was wasting a year of her life. So like Jim Rutherford, I decided to change the narrative.

I stopped following the Penguins and began to branch out to other interests. I started teaching myself piano. I became more invested in national and global issues. I read books and took classes on how to become a more comforting person. I worked to become a better and healthier cook. I began going to the gym and taking an active role in my own health and fitness. And just as GMJR did with his fans, I felt I was ready to win the girl back.

So I made a speech. I proclaimed my love. Talked about how I’d changed, how things would be better, how we were meant to be together. It felt right. I was feeling confident. And then came the response:

Who is Jim Rutherford and why on Earth did you just use his name so much in that pathetic speech? You’re the same guy you always have been and I promise you we’ll never be together again. I don’t care if you’ve transitioned from a Rob Scuderi to a Trevor Daley, whatever that even means. Please, please please please, don’t talk to me again.”

Next: Penguins' Evgeni Malkin Not the Problem

So here I am now. Back to the one thing I’ve always loved, vowing to never leave again. Diligently following the Pittsburgh Penguins has been my past, my present, and will forever be my future. I wasn’t able to have the same comeback story that Rutherford had, but maybe that’s for the best. Sitting here writing right now, well, it feels a lot like home.

Safe to say I’m excited to be back.