Jim Rutherford's 20th year as the general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes (and Hartford Whalers) will likely be his last.
According to Chip Patterson of the News & Observer, Rutherford is expected to step away from his duties as the franchise's general manager at the end of this season. If so, that would end his tenure as GM that has spanned two decades and two cities.
Already the Canes appear to have Rutherford's successor lined up, a familiar name to Hurricanes fans.
Sources close to the team say Rutherford may stay as team president, although that decision has not been made.
It's expected Ron Francis, the Hurricanes' vice president of hockey operations, will succeed Rutherford as general manager. That decision will be made by team owner Peter Karmanos Jr.
Thus would end a remarkable bit of consistency, something we don't see a lot of in NHL front offices. It helps that Rutherford constructed a Stanley Cup champion team a decade ago (with big thanks to Francis) and that he has had such a long-standing relationship with the Karmanos family.
Replacing Rutherford as GM could be a rough spot for Francis as soon as he steps on the job. The Hurricanes have a lot of high-priced, long-term contracts in place but unfortunately they have been stuck near the bottom of the league for a few seasons now.
He would be in the position of having to decide how to best position the franchise going forward while those deals could be burdensome. Rutherford has locked in his good players to big deals but it also has led to the fact that for the 2015-16 season the Hurricanes already have nearly $50 million committed (including Justin Faulk's new deal) in payroll and just 11 players signed. If Rutherford stays on in the organization, though, it could be an unusual spot if he tried to restructure the pay sheet.