Rutherford hears Leafs rumblings

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

It didn't take long for the rumours in frosty Toronto to reach Jim Rutherford's ears down on Tobacco Road.

In the nine days that have elapsed since John Ferguson was relieved of his duties as Maple Leafs general manager, there have been no shortage of suggestions on the airwaves, in print and around various water coolers as to possible candidates to become the president/GM of the hockey team.

And on almost every radio show, newspaper article or television panel debating the issue, Rutherford's name invariably has come up along with those of Anaheim's Brian Burke and Detroit's Ken Holland.

"It's flattering that I would be mentioned like that," the Carolina Hurricanes general manager said yesterday from Raleigh, where his team will play host to the Maple Leafs tonight at the RBC Center. "There is no doubt (the Leafs) are one of the most storied franchises in the league.

"But that's not an issue. My focus is completely on the Hurricanes and getting them into the playoffs."

Rutherford has a number of ties to southern Ontario. He hails from Beeton, which is less than an hour north of Toronto, and he actually tended goal for the Leafs back in 1980-81.

"(My memories) of that are not fond ones. I did not play well there," said Rutherford, who went 4-10-2 with a 5.12 goals-against average during his stint in blue and white.

While a number of reputable reports claim 'Canes owner Peter Karmanos would allow Rutherford to get out of his deal in Carolina in the event the Toronto job became available, Rutherford said he has not talked to Karmanos about the possibility.

Rutherford is more concerned with the state of his Hurricanes, a team he boldly says has "underachieved." While the 'Canes were impressive in their 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday, Rutherford said the team must be more consistent down the stretch.

"We worked extremely hard against New York and that's what you want to see," he said. "That's the team we expected to see. But we have to do it for the long haul.

"Yes, you can point to the fact we have had injuries and had the flu bug run through our roster for two weeks. But we are only one game over .500 and, frankly, we should be better than that."


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