Having spent parts of five decades in the NHL — six if you include the day the Detroit Red Wings drafted him 10th overall in 1969 — Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford knows every season brings unique challenges.

This season, Rutherford's first running the Penguins, has been no exception. The team passed the quarter mark Wednesday. A day earlier, I caught up with Rutherford at his Consol Energy Center office. We discussed an eventful, largely successful first 20 games and the heart-wrenching episodes involving defenseman Olli Maatta and winger Pascal Dupuis.

On the wall behind Rutherford was a framed photo of his younger self, curls flowing out from behind the blue goalie mask he wore for the Penguins in the early 1970s. It served as a reminder that this man, who will turn a Penguins-significant 66 in February, has seen a few things — and knows seasons aren't decided in November, even if all the offseason moves look pretty good at that point.

Team-shaping continues to the last minute of the trade deadline and beyond.

“My finish line is June,” Rutherford said.

Among the topics broached:

• The obvious need for help on the wings. Rutherford spoke more frankly than most GMs would have after he expressed genuine gratitude for how his players have produced and worked at developing a solid bond.

“We'll still make some changes with the team,” he said. “We need to get more balance in our forward lines. And I say that with all due respect to the players we have. The guys have worked hard. At the same time, there's a lot of good teams in this league, and I recognize that we'll have to get more depth up front.”