Former New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather will always been intrinsically linked to Edmonton. Even if he’s spent his last 14 seasons in Gotham.
And he referenced the current Oilers situation on why he decided to officially hand over the Rangers’ general manager spot to long-time assistant GM Jeff Gorton rather than stepping down and watch the Rangers hire someone outside. Sather will retain his title as president – but it sounds like more of a ceremonial spot.
“A lot of times just like you saw in Edmonton when somebody goes into a place they change the personnel and I didn’t really want to see that happen here,” he said.
A shot at Peter Chiarelli for his (understandable) slash and burn tactics of the old boys network who ran Edmonton into the ground? The guys Sather brought to the Oilers as players? Sure. But when you’re one of the oldest of the old boys on the way out, you’re allowed to speak your mind.
“I’ve pretty well spent my life doing this, playing, coaching and managing,” Slats said. "The clock moves for everyone.”
And over those years, Sather has been seen as many different types of managers. There was the genius who built the Oilers dynasty in the 1980s. There was the guy who had to trade those parts for nothing tangible in return and then had to run the team on a shoestring budget.
There was the early Rangers era where he made mega trades (Eric Lindros) and mega signings (Bobby Holik) that never produced the playoffs. He hired Bryan Trottier as the team’s head coach – an experiment that didn’t even last an entire season.
Then there was the salary cap era that forced Sather to change his tactics. He had to build a team rather than buy one. How much credit he deserves in the Rangers post 2005 lockout is questionable.
Former assistant general manager Don Maloney was the public voice of the idea of surrounding superstar Jaromir Jagr with some of his Czech friends. Jagr had an MVP worthy campaign in 2005-06 and helped New York make the playoffs for the first time since Mark Messier’s first era with the team. Sather was also involved in this idea.
Franchise netminder Henrik Lundqvist was picked in the 2000 draft by the Rangers just a few weeks after Sather took the GM role.
Gorton was named the team’s assistant general manager after Maloney’s departure and has been credited with a lot of New York’s recent success – two Conference Final appearances and a Stanley Cup Final – since the 2010-11 season. Sather was seen mostly as a figurehead.
The move has been rumored for a while. Sather is 71 and noted that general managers of his era are going away. A younger breed with different types of relationships is coming through the ranks.
“I would say there’s not a lot changing other than I’ll have the final decision on players,” Gorton said.
There was a question on whether Sather would stay in New York or move on with his life. Someone asked him about California.
“You’re going to be stuck with me, I’m going to be right here,” he said. “I don’t plan on going anywhere.”
Though ‘Fire Gorton’ chants at Madison Square Garden will sound way less cool.
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