Friday, May 8, 2009

Admitting the Problem, Slats, is the First Step to Recovery

Glen Sather, like most guys who make their way up to General Manager, is a proud man. Sather built a multiple Stanley Cup winner in Edmonton back in the 1980s (a long time ago). Then Slats (his nick name as a player in the 1960s – a long long time ago) was hired and compensated pretty well to try to do the same thing for our New York Rangers.

And he hasn't bombed out in New York. He returned the Rangers to four years of Playoff Hockey after those horrific years of not qualifying. Four straight playoff years – and two trips to the Semi Finals - is not easy – and we appreciate it. And he's put some quality players on his team. Certainly Henrik Lundqvist is a special talent - certainly a good enough netminder to win it all - but not - as we saw this year - all by himself. And many of our younger players drafted on Staher's watch (Callahan for one) show a lot of promise and potential upside.

But Sather has also been guilty of apparently trying to make good players into great ones by paying them like superstars. That's what we call a classic "reach" - and our roster is full of examples of Glen’ over-reaching. We talked about Redden (maybe the worst hockey contract ever). Rozival also fits into that category. Gomez, I think, has been overpaid too. And as much as we like Drury - he's also making a lot of money for a lot of years. And this isn't the Yankees, where there is no meaningful salary cap. The Rangers have a hard cap – a cap that may even shrink this year - and a set of fat contracts that are killing us. And how, exactly, do you spend all that money and not bring in one sharpshooter - not one guy who strikes some fear across the ice when he gets the puck. (I know we have a few defensemen who strike fear into OUR HEARTS when they handle the puck – but that’s not the same thing.)

This is an important off-season. There are hard choices to be made. But can Sather make those tough choices? Because in any journey of self awareness and self improvement, the first stage of recovery is to admit the problem.

Sather is, as we said, a proud man. Can he step up now and admit he's made some mistakes? And not just goofs – he’s made some catastrophic, all-time, historic blunders? Because if Slats can't - or won't - then he can't get busy trying to fix them.

For Sather to succeed here – for himself – for us – and for the Rangers - he needs to forget his pride - admit his errors – roll up his sleeves - and start fixing this hockey club.

And he’d better get started now. Because the clock is ticking – on Hank’s productive years, on our own free agents, and on available talent around the league.

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