March 10th, 2009
Having played 67 games, the New York Rangers are flirting with the unthinkable yet very real possbility of not making the Stanley Cup Playoffs because despite a solid veteran lineup and the solid goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist this is a team of chronic underachievers (yet again).
Proven Star players and Team leaders Scott Gomez(-5), Chris Drury(-11),and Markus Naslund(-10) are seemingly not the answer. Nikolai Zherdev(+7) leads the team with 50 points and is the one and only plus rated player on the entire roster.
As General Managers never actually blame themselves for a team's failure, GM Glen Sather fired Coach Tom Renney on February 23rd and replaced him with John Tortorella who ld Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup in 2004. To date, J.T. is only 3-2-1 since assuming the helm. It is early, but even so it is doubtful J.T. is the answer, nor was Renney the problem.
The issue is with a Guy who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. I am of course speaking of Rangers' President/GM Glen Sather whom since his hiring in 2000 has wielded absolute power in New York and whose job is somehow secure despite the fact he began his tenure by missing the Playoffs four straight seasons and has since turned the team into little more than a turnstile of underachieving veteran Superstars. Sather has actually had two stints as coach of the team, going a combined 33-39-11-7 (No more successful behind the bench than the coaches he has fired).
Glen Sather did bring with him quite an impressive resume from the legend he built after assuming President/GM/Coaching duties from 1979 - 1990 with the Edmonton Oilers. Sather was deeply involved as he built a Juggernaut Team which took 5 Stanley Cups in 7 Seasons from 1984 - 1990. His draft picks were remarkeable; Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson in 1979,Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri in 1980, and then Steve Smith and Grant Fuhr in 1981 as well as Esa Tikanen in 1983. He seems to have changed his philosophy since joining the Rangers and is now determined to build through Free Agency (Eric Lindros ? Pave Bure ? Bobby Holik ? Jaromir Jagr ?) instead of the draft, and it just ain't workin'. His only notable draft picks since joining the Rangers have been Henrik Lundqvist in 2000, Brandon Dubinsky in 2004 and Mark Staal in 2005. Perhaps the Rangers should have considered the 10 fruitless seasons Sather had with the Oilers from 1990 - 2000 before giving him total control.
When Renney was fired and Tortorella hired as Rangers Head Coach on February 23rd, one would think the GM would want to show support for his new coach, right ?
Here is a taste of support - Sather Style. Sean Avery, a talented headcase had been released by the Rangers after the 2008 season. Avery was picked up by the Dallas Stars and wound up getting suspended by the NHL and ultimately waived by the Dallas franchise in the midst of this current season. Back in December, after Avery was suspended by the league for crude comments about his ex-girlfriends, Tortorella (Not yet Rangers Coach) said: "Enough is enough. He's embarrassed himself, he's embarrassed the (Dallas) organization, he's embarrassed the league and he's embarrassed his teammates, who have to look out for him. Send him home. He doesn't belong in the league."
Sather then reacquired Sean Avery off waivers a week after hiring Tortorella, simply saying of his new coaches past comments regarding Avery,"He doesn't have the history with Sean that we do. Over time you learn to love him, just like I do." Gee Glen, if you say so . .
Glen Sather is definitely an NHL legend because of the incredible legacy built in his first 10 seasons with the Oilers, but bottomline is, harsh though it may seem, Glen Sather has not accomplished anything significant in Hockey since 1990 - that's 19 years. Enough is enough, the game has seemingly passed him by and he seems unwilling to change and content to live on past glory. This proud original six franchise deserves better. Sather can always go visit his Plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but his time has passed.