After the Rangers disposed of the Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to earn a spot to compete for the Stanley Cup, this was the scene outside Madison Square Garden…
But just four short years earlier, with the Rangers headed towards a playoff-less season due to Olli Jokinen’s inadequate shootout ability, it looked a lot different…
That was 2010, nine seasons into Glen Sather’s tenure as Rangers GM. Unfortunately, those nine years were littered with irresponsible contracts and just two playoff series wins.
The Rangers fan base was upset, and they had every right to be. As general manager in Edmonton, Sather infamously stated…
“If I had the Rangers payroll, I’d never lose a game.”
Sadly, once he did have control of James Dolan’s purse strings, he needed a lockout in 2004 to force a change in direction from his free spending ways and finally get the Blueshirts into the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
Let’s just say Sather hasn’t been a beloved figure around these parts for awhile. However, two appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals the last three years has done a lot to change general manager’s perception among Blueshirt fans.
I swear I’ve done four separate 180s on Sather during his tenure.
But here were are. On the eve of the Rangers playing for the greatest trophy in professional sports. Whether it was the 2004 lockout, John Tortorella’s insistence on building from within or possibly just a broken clock being right twice a day, Sather deserves a ton of credit for building this team.
It was his decision to basically dismantle a club that had gone to Eastern Conference on blood, sweat and tears for one with enough speed and skill to compete with the big boys.
Between the chances he took signing guys such as Beniot Pouliot, Anton Stralman and Dominice Moore to the magician like trades he’s made to obtain players such as Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis and finally to the improved drafting (In Gordie We Trust) that has uncovered blue chippers such as Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin, the Ranger GM’s finger prints are all over this team.
And let’s not forget his decision to fire a head coach just a year removed from the Rangers most successful season since 1997 and bring in his complete antithesis.
Before the postseason, the Rangers GM stated that he had no plans to step down or step away. However, you have to wonder what winning a Stanley Cup might do to Sather’s mindset. It’s not out of the question he pulls a John Elway and gets out while he’s on top.
However, I don’t see it. Does he look like a guy who’s ready to hang them up?…
If he does decide to ride off into the sunset, the impact of his loss will be felt immediately as the Rangers have a number of key free agents looking for raises this offseason and I think we’re all aware of Sather’s shrewd negotiating skills. Just ask Ryan Callahan.
With the Rangers struggling mighty back in November, we all cringed when Dolan announced that Sather had a job for life. How could a GM, who’s only sniffed a Stanley Cup Finals once in 13 years become so bullet proof? Were we missing something? Yeah, it looks like we were as Sather has the Rangers just four wins from their first championship in 20 years.
And if the Blueshirst are able to do the unthinkable, any scheduled “Fire Sather” rally for the middle of June will have to be placed on hold indefinitely as every Rangers fan will be too busy attending a huge parade celebrating their GM’s accomplishments.