Continuing with my belief that the New York Rangers’ season is over, today I am going to look at a change the organization should make though most of us as fans don’t believe it will. Glen Sather has had nearly 10 years to set this team straight. He has failed for the most part. Sure, the Rangers are one of only two teams to qualify for the postseason every year since the lockout but what have they accomplished really? Nothing! They are in salary cap hell and have little chance to contend for a championship in the next several years as a result. I for one am tired of it and a change needs to happen; but the question is what change is needed?
The Rangers have had a bad year. They have been maddeningly inconsistent. There have been stretches where they looked like a sure playoff team; there have been stretches when they have looked like a lottery team. One day the offense is potting 3 or 4 goals a game but the defense breaks down and leaves Lundqvist out to dry. Other nights the King, Henrik Lundqvist, lets in an easy goal to let the team down. Still other nights the defense does a good job, Lundqvist makes big saves but the offense can’t sustain any kind of offensive attack.
Having been on a lot of fan boards and discussing the situation with many Rangers’ fans, most of us point the finger of blame directly at General Manager Glen Sather. By committing ridiculous cap space to several unproductive players, Sather and the Rangers don’t have the resources needed to improve their inconsistent roster.
Rumors even began circulating earlier this season that Sather’s job was in jeopardy. There was a “Fire Sather” rally at MSG recently staged by fans tired of the losing. Nothing has happened yet but we Ranger fans have already discussed ad nausea who we would like to see take over the GM chair to fix the numerous problems.
The most likely choice to replace Sather in the event of his firing or promotion upstairs is former Rangers Captain Mark Messier. Messier indicated a desire to assume the role of GM, specifically for the Rangers, a few years ago. He was since hired as a Special Assistant to Glen Sather in August to begin learning the business side of the game.
One would think that Messier would be the dream candidate to assume the mantle of leadership of the team for Rangers’ fans. After all, he led the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup Championship ending a 54 year drought. He guaranteed a victory in game 6 of the Conference Finals against the Devils by promising the series would return to MSG from Jersey and then delivering a hat trick to make good on that promise. He earned god status as a result.
While Wayne Gretzky was the star of the NHL and a media darling during their shared time in Edmonton, it was Messier who was the straw that stirred the Oil. He helped lead the Oilers to 5 Cup championships and was the Captain for the last. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest team leaders in all of sports…..ever!
So why is it that so many Ranger fans doubt Messier will be a good GM for the Rangers? Primarily, we doubt him because of his close relationship throughout the years as a player and worse yet, recently as Special Assistant, for Glen Sather. We tend to think that Sather’s stupidity, for lack of a better term, will permeate to his hand chosen assistant. Fans believe that Messier will follow in his mentor’s footsteps and hand out horrible contracts to underachieving players. We doubt him because his executive experience is limited and what he does have has been under the tutelage of Sather.
Rangers’ fans would rather see a proven, veteran executive like current Coyotes’ GM and former Rangers’ Assistant GM Don Maloney, or Red Wings’ Assistant Gm Jim Nill. We would even accept the hire of an enemy like Devils’ Executive VP of Operations and Scouting Director David Conte instead of Sather’s minion, Mark Messier.
I feel any of those three guys would fit in well and be great choices to lead the Rangers organization should Sather vacate the office. But I am posting this in defense of Mark Messier. I know Mark Messier will make a great GM for the Rangers.
One concern about Mess is his lack of experience. Well, in addition to his role as Special Assistant for the Rangers, Messier is taking on the Manager’s position for Canada’s entry into the IIHF World Championships in Germany this May. That’s the same path that former Red Wing Steve Yzerman has taken. Yzerman held the same post with Team Canada at the 2007 World Championships that Mess will hold this year. In addition, he was the Executive Director for Team Canada at this year’s Olympic Games. Today, Yzerman is considered to be among the hottest names for a GM gig in the NHL. Messier may not have the level of experience that Yzerman has yet but he is working to get there.
There is also one characteristic that Messier possesses that is being overlooked by the disbelievers. Mess is absolutely dedicated to being the best at anything and everything he undertakes. As a player, Messier worked his butt off in every facet of the game. He will be no different as GM.
Once he made the commitment to work for the Rangers in the front office, he made a commitment to be the best he can be. He is a proud man who will never function as anyone’s puppet. He has a deep love for the Rangers and wants nothing but for the Rangers to succeed. He will do everything in his power to bring the team back to glory as we’ve seen during his playing days.
I can’t believe that he will just be a Sather lackey if and when he becomes Rangers’ GM. As I said earlier he is too proud. He was known for challenging coaches during his playing days; including Mike Keenan during that magical playoff run. He isn’t afraid to be his own man.
The fact that he waited a couple of years after his playing days ended is evidence to me that his desire lies with the job. He’s all in and Mess has delivered the only Championship in the last 70 years for the Rangers one other time he was all in.
That’s it fellow Rangers’ fans; that’s my argument in favor of Messier being the next Rangers’ GM. I hope you find it compelling. At the very least, I hope that I have opened your mind to the possibility that Mess can be a great GM and not the second coming of Glen Sather.