Rutherford Shakes Up Penguins Room with Hagelin Trade

Pittsburgh GM not happy with currently team chemistry

Josh Rowntree
November 14, 2018 - 12:00 pm

Josh Rowntree

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Jim Rutherford had seen enough. After watching the Penguins fall for the sixth time in their last seven games Tuesday night in New Jersey, Rutherford made the move to shake up the Penguins locker room.

Wednesday afternoon, Pittsburgh traded winger Carl Hagelin to the LA Kings for winger Tanner Pearson.

"We felt that we needed to make some changes,” Rutherford said. “This could be the start of more changes, or we'll see how this goes here for a little bit. But, the way things have gone here in the first part of the season, it’s obvious that we had to change things up.”

Pearson has had a disappointing season, to this point. He has one assist in 17 games and is a minus-9 on the year. A year ago, Pearson scored 15 goals and racked up 40 points. In the 2016-2017 season, he scored 24 goals and added 20 assists. 

“He’s off to allow start this year,” Rutherford said. “He’s kind of, maybe, lost his confidence a little bit in the early going. But he’s had a good career. He's able to play with top guys. He's done it in LA. I believe a change will be good for him and he'll be a good fit for us."

Hagelin is having a down year, as well. After putting up 31 points last season, he has just one goal and three points this year. 

“I feel bad,” Rutherford said. “Carl Hagelin is a very popular guy. I like him a lot, personally. He was a part of winning the Stanley Cup. But, at the same time, we’re not tracking towards winning a Stanley Cup right now. Changes were necessary.”

“It’s tough,” defenseman Brian Dumoulin said. “He’s a great friend, a good teammate. Obviously we’ve been through a lot together. He’s been with this group for a little while now, especially for the Cup runs… He’s a tough guy to replace in the locker room.”

Rutherford, who earlier in the day teased the trade when speaking about his new three-year contract extension, acknowledges that shipping off Hagelin could disrupt some chemistry in the locker room. But, ultimately, Pittsburgh's general manager is not content with the chemistry he is currently witnessing.

“When you’re not getting the results, clearly there’s a problem.,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “The GM and the coach have certain jobs to do. That’s what they try to do, they try to spark things up and try to get us on the right track.”

Rutherford has never shied away from making a risky move. Bringing in a player going through, quite possibly, the worst stretch of his career, one that is making $3.75 million and is signed for two more years, is a gamble Rutherford was willing to make. 

“I’m usually very patient,” he said. “But my patience is running out.”

Hear all of what Jim Rutherford had to say below.

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