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Rutherford’s Coaching Comments an Indictment of Whole Organization

Rutherford keeps taking shots at Bruce, but really, blame falls on everyone.

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

The Canucks are off to a bad start.

Shocking, I know, but true.

And there’s plenty of blame to go around. President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford, for his part, seems to think it’s entirely the fault of head coach Bruce Boudreau.

He went on Sportsnet 650 yesterday and talked a ton of crap about Bruce and the lack of structure and dedication the group has shown under him:

The comments, of course, got a ton of buzz. An executive talking so critically of his own coach in the media is nearly unheard of. Some said that Rutherford was being borderline mean, and honestly, I kind of agree. It seems totally unnecessary to do this out in the open. What can possibly be gained by ripping Bruce in the media?

But I think it speaks to broader organizational dysfunction.

Has Bruce been perfect? No, they probably do need more structure. They did have a terrible camp and pre-season, and there’s clearly some sort of spark missing. So no, he’s not above criticism, but at the same time, why did Rutherford and Co. bring him back? If they’re so into structure — and they purport to be — why bring a guy known for not really caring about it?

All reporting points to Bruce having had an option in his contract. I’m going to assume that’s true, because despite JR’s assertion that he had a full on second year, that has never been seen to be true — I think he’s being pedantic there. So if you wanted a structure guy, go get one! You didn't need to bring him back! Even if he did have a second year, just let him go. Trashing him in the media is a terrible look on the organization, and it’s happening seemingly because they didn’t want to take a PR hit in firing Bruce.

But let’s say their hand was forced. Let’s say Francesco Aquillini didn’t want to pay for another fired coach and so he had to keep Bruce. That still looks terrible on the organization! The owner is so cheap that he was willing to cause an open beef between the POHO and the head coach — how does that possibly reflect well on anyone? And of course, this is after Aquillini himself hired Bruce. Sure, supposedly Rutherford signed off on it before he was officially with the team, but still, isn’t it a bit weird that the owner handpicked a coach?

This whole saga reflects an organization in dysfunction. Bruce is doing his best with a flawed group, and maybe his style doesn’t work. That’s honestly secondary. What’s worth following is the fact that the owner and management seem to be on different wavelengths. Either through frugality or incompetence or fear, management has ended up stuck with a coach they obviously don’t care for. And how are they handling it? With pettiness in local and national media outlets. Criticize Bruce all you want, but Aquillini, Rutherford, and Patrick Allvin need to sort their s**t out and figure out why they have a coach they don’t want, and how they’re going to deal with it. Because the current situation of open trashing is not tenable, and reflects poorly on the organization.