Rutherford open to NHL return: 'I still got the bug'

Dave Sandford / National Hockey League / Getty

A month after surprisingly resigning as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jim Rutherford has his eyes set on a potential return to hockey.

"I still got the bug," Rutherford told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

"I can tell you that I feel good, I have a lot of energy, I love the game. I’ve watched as many games as I can every night to stay in the loop. I have an emotional connection to the Penguins for obvious reasons, but I still have the bug to be with a team and try to contribute and make it better."

The 72-year-old still hasn't elaborated on why he left his position with Pittsburgh, simply citing personal reasons. Shortly after his resignation, the club hired Ron Hextall as general manager and brought in Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.

Rutherford had been general manager of the Penguins since 2014, helping lead the club to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in 2016 and 2017.

While a return to Pittsburgh doesn't seem to be in the books, Rutherford added he won't necessarily be actively looking for a front-office position and instead will wait to see if an opportunity comes his way.

"I’ve done this long enough, and I have a lot of friends in the game and a lot of respect for everybody, and I’m not looking to take somebody’s job," Rutherford said. "So I’m not going to be making phone calls and saying that I’m looking for a job that somebody already has.

"It’s a place where most people would like to get to in their life. You can work if you want, but you don’t have to. I don’t have any more things to accomplish in the league, but I do think I have a lot to offer to a team in the right situation."

Rutherford won the Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award in 2016 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019. He also previously spent 20 years as general manager of the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.

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Rutherford open to NHL return: 'I still got the bug'
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