Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the infamous Fire Sather Rally. It was a rally that got mainstream media attention, and major attention from the blog-o-sphere. I did not attend this rally, as I did not believe that Glen Sather should have been fired then, now, or at any time following the lockout. The organizer of the rally, Mike Zippo, spoke with New York Magazine, and has had a slight reversal of opinion of Slats:
You’d mentioned to Puck Daddy in January of 2010 that you thought Sather would make a “stupid trade” and deal away prospects. But as you said, he’s avoided making that kind of trade. So I guess my question is this: How much confidence do you have in Sather now? How has that confidence level changed over the past fourteen months or so, since that interview?
As long as he doesn’t have his checkbook open on July 1, I think he’ll be okay. He has made some great trades, but a signing like the [Derek] Boogaard one makes you scratch your head.
This seems to be the general consensus amongst Ranger fans. For a period of time between 2005-2008, there have been a few good signings, a lot of questionable signings, and one horrific signing. Everyone has different opinions about the specific signings themselves. However, the point that is often overlooked is that the Rangers were inexplicably making the playoffs and competing when to be blunt, they shouldn’t have been. Thus, Slats made the decision (in my opinion) to go for gold with free agents while not dealing away the core youth in the rebuild. It was a bold decision to make that had some blow-back, but did not cripple the franchise long term.
When you look at the trades the Rangers made, Slats never gave up anyone that has amounted into anything significant. Fedor Tyutin could be the exception here, but the Rangers have so much depth on defense, that he really isn’t missed by this team. Other than Tyutin, the only outrage was when Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes were dealt in a package for Derek Morris. Prucha isn’t in the NHL anymore, and Dawes has been on the waiver wire as often as the Rangers backup goalies in 2009-2010. This of course, brings me to this quote by Zippo:
A year later, do you still think Glen Sather should be fired? Has anything changed over the past twelve months that made you reconsider your position?
Well, he’s certainly been doing a better job as of late. He’s cleared some cap space, he hasn’t given away prospects or picks, and the team is young, competitive, and fun to watch.
The answer given by Zippo here is slightly misleading. As alluded to above, Sather never dealt away any prospect or roster player that the coaching staff recognized as being a core piece to the puzzle. Guys like Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi have remained with the club throughout the years. Players like Artem Anisimov and Michael Del Zotto are being retained despite their struggles. Prospects like Chris Kreider and Christian Thomas are being held on to, despite the fact that the Rangers have been in the playoff hunt every single season.
Although Slats’ free agent signings have been questionable, he has managed to turn those players into core youth. That does not absolve Slats of all blame for the cap situation of previous seasons, but sometimes the end justifies the means. The Rangers are on an upward trend, and are doing it by following the five year plan (post-lockout plan). The only difference between one year ago and today is that fans are beginning to recognize that the Rangers have had a plan, and they are beginning to see it come to fruition on the ice.