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Rutherford sees long road for Canucks' improvement: 'A lot of things have to happen'

Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford isn't satisfied with the state of his club despite a modest turnaround in recent weeks.

The Canucks are 3-1-1 in their last five games after starting the season with seven consecutive losses, but Rutherford said the team has a long way to go.

"First of all, this is not going to get changed in a real short period of time," he told Sportsnet's "Canucks Central" on Monday. "I know that we all recognize that, and there's a real challenge here related to sorting out contracts and different things like that. At this point, I would have expected better. I didn't like our training camp, and we continued into the early part of the season the same way as our training camp was."

He continued: "There's a lot of things that have to happen, but in order for us to become a better team, we have to play with a stronger system and really be more accountable for some of the things some of the players are struggling with."

Rutherford didn't mention anything about head coach Bruce Boudreau's status going forward. However, he said the run-and-gun style the team adopted when the veteran bench boss took over last season isn't sustainable for a club pushing for a playoff spot.

But the veteran executive hinted that a trade could be coming to potentially shake things up in the dressing room.

"We're at a point now, and certainly will be at this point even more so at the end of this road trip, where we have to make players more accountable," Rutherford said. "We'll have to take the necessary steps to get players' attention. We tried to make changes in the offseason - a priority of ours is the right side of our defense. We need to make it younger."

The Canucks recently acquired defenseman Ethan Bear from the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade Rutherford said took months to facilitate. The blue-liner has averaged over 20 minutes per night in three games with his new club.

Vancouver is coming off a 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday, squandering a three-goal lead in the process. The club is set to embark on a critical five-game road trip that features contests against the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and Buffalo Sabres.

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