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Fourty-two years ago, the Leafs acquired goaltender Jim Rutherford

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Aleena Aksenchuk
2 months ago
It was 42 years ago yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired goaltender Jim Rutherford from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Mark Kirton.
During the 1980-81 season, the Leafs had been having a series of serious problems. Much of it had to do with the fact they heavily relied on goaltender Jiri Chra, who had played 21 of the Leafs’ first 23 games of the season, prompting the organization to bring in the 10-year veteran from Detroit to take over the starting position. 
Rutherford had previously asked Detroit for a trade after getting slotted into the second-string position with the signing of Rogie Vachon; a year later, the Red Wings fulfilled his request. 
Jim Rutherford traded to Leafs
However, although Rutherford anticipated the possibility of being the player to switch threads, he was never told by the organization; instead, he was contacted by the Toronto Star, who broke the news to him.
“I’ve heard rumours that something might be happening,” Rutherford told the Toronto Star’s Frank Orr. “But yesterday, they told me I’d be playing tonight against Quebec Nordiques here [in Detroit]. I can’t really say much about it until they tell me it’s happened. If it does, I won’t be disappointed.”
When the trade was finally confirmed, Rutherford made his way to the Leafs. Unfortunately, instead of taking all the glory as the Leafs’ new number one goaltender, he began to feel a sense of deja vu as the 21-year-old call-up from the New Brunswick Hawks of the American Hockey League Vince Tremblay began to slide into the starting position. 
Rutherford played all 18 games with the Leafs throughout three months with a record of 4-10-2 and a .853 save percentage before he found himself on the move once again.
On March 10th, 1981, the Leafs traded Rutherford to the Los Angeles Kings for a fifth-round pick to select Barry Brigley, who would never touch NHL ice. 
Throughout his time in the NHL, Rutherford had a respectable career playing in 475 games with a record of 151-227-59 and a .879 save percentage. Beyond the Red Wings, Kings, and the Leafs, he also had a two-and-a-half-year tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins. 
Since he retired from the NHL in 1983, Rutherford has established himself as a Hall of Fame general manager as he guided the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2014 to 2021. 
After the trade, Kirton finished the year with the Red Wings, scoring 18 goals and 31 points. He remained with the team for the following two-and-a-half seasons before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Ivan Boldirev. He would finish his career in Vancouver in 1985, scoring 57 goals and 113 points during his six-year NHL career. 

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