Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 13
The Stanley Cup Journal

In a symbolic gesture reserved for champions, Carolina's President/GM Jim Rutherford hoists the Stanley Cup with help from his daughter Andrea, up from Springfield, Massachusetts to celebrate with her proud Dad. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
As a young boy growing up during the 1950's in Beeton, Ontario, a small village midway between Toronto and Barrie and now absorbed into the town of New Tecumseth, Jim Rutherford played hockey by the hour in the kitchen of his family's home. Fascinated with goaltenders, Rutherford would position himself between the legs of the kitchen table, toss a ball against the counter and as it bounced back at him, stop it from going between the table legs. He'd toss that ball repeatedly for hours on end, making the saves like the heroes he heard about on the radio.

On his day with the Stanley Cup, the president/general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes decided to return to where it all began — his mother's home in Beeton.

Jim, his wife Leslie and his daughter Andrea, the woman he refers to as "my best friend," arrived late morning on Saturday, July 15 in the village named Beeton because the founder of the Ontario Beekeepers' Association hailed from the area, and placed the Stanley Cup on the front lawn of his mother's house. Family and friends were welcomed to stop by, visit and get pictures taken with the Cup.

At lunch time, the Rutherfords took the historic trophy into the house and placed it on the kitchen table. It was an emotional scenario for Jim. "This is where it all began," he explained. "Throwing that ball against the counter and trying to stop it, dreaming that I was an NHL goaltender who was helping his team win the Stanley Cup. Unreal!"

The line extended for hours as fans congregated at the Beeton Arena to get a picture with the Stanley Cup and to meet local hero, Jim Rutherford.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
As a 14-season NHL goaltender, playing for the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings during his career, Rutherford had proven himself a more than capable netminder, but the Stanley Cup he dreamed of had eluded his teams. Now, as an executive with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, that dream had, at last, been realized.

From 3 until 6, Rutherford and the Cup were at the Beeton Community Memorial Arena, meeting local fans. Photos of Jim active locally in a number of different sports were posted throughout the arena. Rutherford had been quite the local phenom, starring in both hockey and baseball once upon a time. A thousand people showed up to get their picture taken with the Stanley Cup and to offer congratulations to local boy made good, Jimmy Rutherford. The last time the Cup was in the area was during the summer of 2002 when Alliston's Manny Legace brought the gleaming trophy to New Tecumseth after winning the championship with the Red Wings.

At seven, the Beeton Athletic Association hosted a tribute dinner for the Hurricanes' GM upstairs in the community centre's hall. Besides the sensational Stanley Cup win, Jim had just been named NHL Executive of the Year by both The Hockey News and The Sporting News. For a team that many knowledgeable followers didn't believe would even make the playoffs, the Stanley Cup was an extraordinary accomplishment for Jim Rutherford and the Carolinas Hurricanes.

At a tribute in his honour, Rutherford thanked the community that helped give him his start in competitive hockey. Friends Cory Stillman, Bill Watters and Paul Maurice all showed up to acknowledge the success of their friend. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
As he was being introduced to the sold-out crowd, Jim entered the hall with the Stanley Cup held high over his head, eliciting monstrous cheering from the 150 in attendance. Rutherford smiled and said hello by name to people he hadn't seen in years and years, remembering everyone. Among those there to surprise Rutherford were his sister Muriel, long-time friend Bill Watters, a former agent and now a popular media personality, and Cory Stillman and his wife. And then, one further surprise guest arrived — Paul Maurice, the former coach of the Hurricanes who will be behind the bench for the Maple Leafs this season.

Several speeches followed, but arguably the best came from Jim's mother. Her speech was very funny but incredibly heartfelt, leaving guests laughing one minute and reaching for a Kleenex the next.

When it came Jim's turn to speak, he thanked everyone profusely. Recognizing the surprise visit by Paul Maurice and his wife, the classy Rutherford said, "Y'know, if I'm not fortunate enough to win this again, I hope Paul gets to win this in Toronto."

After dinner and speeches concluded, a few close friends and family members joined Jim, Leslie and the Stanley Cup at the Muddy Water Tavern to continue the visit. Leslie Rutherford, who is a terrific lady and good friend to the players' wives, explained how she prepared special gifts before each game to bring the team luck. It certainly paid dividends during the spring of 2006!

Former player agent Alan Eagleson arrived at Rutherford's childhood home to personally deliver a bottle of champagne to his friend. Here, in the same kitchen where Jim's early dreams of one day winning the Stanley Cup were nurtured, Eagleson carefully tips the Stanley Cup so the 'Canes' GM can celebrate his successes.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The group chatted over beverages until 1:30.

At 11:30 on Sunday morning, Jim's mother hosted a brunch, as she does every Sunday. Food was laid out on the now-famous table in the Rutherford kitchen, but had to share space with the Stanley Cup. Family and friends laughed and talked and enjoyed the Rutherford hospitality. They were pleasantly surprised when another guest dropped in — Alan Eagleson, former president of the National Hockey League Players' Association. Eagleson had a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon under his arm, and was quick to greet the group and pour the bubbly into Lord Stanley's Bowl. "Drink up, this is a celebration," he laughed. And there, in the kitchen where his youthful hockey dreams were nurtured, Jim Rutherford took a sip of champagne from the bowl of hockey's most celebrated trophy.

"I've got something else for you, too," Eagleson continued. He handed Jim a bag with something fairly heavy inside. "What is it," queried Rutherford. "Well, open the damned thing up and find out," laughed Eagleson. Inside was a miniature Canada Cup that had belonged to Alan Eagleson. "Jimmy, I want you to have it."

Rutherford was clearly moved by the gesture and embraced his old pal.

The group of friends and family sat in the yard and told stories through the afternoon on Sunday, July 16. At 3:00, it was time for the Stanley Cup to leave the town that bees built…and Jim Rutherford put on the map.

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On Tuesday, the Stanley Cup Journal will take you from a celebration for the Karmanos family in Detroit to the small north woods Minnesota town of Bemidji and a day with Marshall Johnston, Carolina's Director of Pro Scouting. Be safe out there!

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Besides his role as Editor of Publications and On-Line Services with
the Hockey Hall of Fame, Kevin Shea is also co-author of the up-coming
biography, 'Lord Stanley-The Man Behind The Cup.'
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