January 28, 2010
"Fire Sather" has been echoing through Madison Square Garden since before the lockout, although its volume had decreased somewhat in recent seasons. It's still a rallying cry for disaffected New York Rangers fans who see GM Glen Sather as the root of most of the franchise's current evils, from the elephantine contracts to undeserving players to the alleged scapegoating of Tom Renney last spring.
If nothing else, he's seen as an executive who has managed to get the Rangers into the playoffs in four consecutive seasons but whose befuddled managerial decisions have prevented the team from really challenging for the Stanley Cup.
Mike Zippo was 5 years old and a season-ticket holder when the Rangers paraded with the Cup in 1994, which makes him too young to truly know the decades of angst many Blueshirts fans have lived through but just old enough to remember what kind of a champion the proper allocation of the team's resources can produce.
Now, Zippo is championing the cause to have Slats shown the door, organizing a "Fire Sather Rally" for March 7 outside the Garden. From the official Facebook page, with close to 400 confirmed for the protest:
"Tired of Mismanagement, Bad Contracts, being mired in Mediocrity and a lack of results? Come down to Madison Square Garden before the Rangers-Sabres game, join the rally, and let Mr. Jim Dolan know that you want Glen Sather FIRED immediately!!!!!!"
The six exclamation points are a clear indication he means business.
The Sunday, March 7 rally will take place on the 33rd Street side of Seventh Ave., in front of a Borders book store. He said pushing the date into March was a necessity because of the Olympic break and the time needed for T-shirts, signs, petitions and other considerations: "If this thing keeps growing, we're going to need permits from the police department."
We spoke with Zippo on Thursday to find out why Sather must be fired and what his expectations are for the Rangers fan base to rally to his cause.
Q. So why should Glen Sather be fired?
The one thing I've laughed about is that when he was the GM in Edmonton he said, ‘If I had the Rangers' budget, I wouldn't lose a game.' When he came in here, he started spending a ton of money. Brought in guys like Lindros and Holik, Bure and a bunch of other guys.
And nothing worked. We missed the playoffs for another four years, we didn't draft well at all. I mean, in 2003, it was one of the deepest drafts in the last 10 years, and our first-round pick was the only guy who hasn't played a game in the NHL yet.
Granted, we've made the playoffs the last four years, but we're hamstrung right now and can't make moves because we've got five guys on the team who make over $5 million. I don't know if anyone would be stupid enough to take on Wade Redden's(notes) contract. Drury has a no-movement clause. We're basically going to be mediocre unless we can bring in new blood here.
Why has Sather been protected while coaches haven't?
I think it's because [owner] Jim Dolan doesn't care if the team goes too far in the playoffs as long as the building is sold out every night and he can raise ticket prices.
How is the "Fire Sather" rally progressing?
It's grown a little bit in the last couple of days. When I started the event on Facebook, I sent out 100 invitations. The first night we had it, we got mentioned on [the Blueshirt Banter] Internet radio show right away. Last night, it was mentioned on [ESPN] 1050 AM at about 11:45 p.m., which is actually the radio home for the Rangers.
I think it's just going to keep growing.
What are the chances you can get Larry Brooks to be your keynote speaker?
God, that would be great. I don't know. I have his contact information.
Do you think this'll make a difference? The Dolans usually aren't in tune with the wants and needs of fans.
I know that Knicks fans had one for Isiah Thomas, and this is along the same lines as that -- although without the scandal he had. But he did get fired at the end of that year. That's just what we're looking to do. Even if they go on a winning streak right now, they aren't built to win the Cup. I think it can make a difference.
So if it's March 7 and the guys are in a playoff spot, the contention is that the team is still pretty well screwed?
I've had discussions with the organizers of this, and even if they go on a tear we're still going to do it. The turnout probably won't be as good, but we still want to do it no matter what.
And I know that in a month, he's going to make a stupid trade. He's gonna send away some prospects and a draft pick to try and bring in somebody.
Are you thinking about any protests inside the arena during Rangers games?
I really don't want to get my season tickets revoked, because I know how they are with stuff like that. I think I'm just going to try and keep this out of the arena.
Finally, what's your dream for the rally as far as impact?
When I started it, I was reading a Knicks article from a couple of years ago and they were saying there were 50-100 people there. That was the goal at first. Now, we have 360 people that are confirmed guests [on Facebook]. If we get around 200-300 people, that would be great.