Rangers mid-season grades: Glen Sather

January 2, 2014, by
The good ol' days

The good ol’ days

For those of you who missed it, we kicked off our annual mid-season grades this week with a review of Alain Vigneault, and have since followed that up with player grades for our defense, bottom six forwards, etc. Today, we’re going to grade the man who oversees it all — Glen Sather.

For the purpose of this post, we’ll need to look back at 2013 in its entirety because we’re experiencing the ripple effects of Sather’s earlier decisions now. And of course, there’s nothing to grade him on from October through December, or what we’d normally evaluate for ‘mid-season’ grades.

If you look back at 2013, there’s essentially four major decisions that standout which have had a cause and effect on our current place in the standings.

The first would be the decision to send Marian Gaborik (as well as prospects) to Columbus for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore, and a 6th round pick in ’14. The second major decision was the firing of John Tortorella and subsequent hiring of Alain Vigneault. The final decision was to retain the services of Brad Richards, which in reality prevented Sather from making any other notable signings during free agency.

Looking first at the Gaborik trade, it’s hard to find any negatives in making this move. The Rangers lost roster depth in the move for Rick Nash and this trade gave us depth back, while simultaneously ridding us of Gabby’s $7.5M cap hit.

In return we received Derick Brassard, while maddeningly inconsistent, is a decent 2nd or 3rd line playmaker on most teams. Derek Dorsett gives us some grit and forechecking ability on the bottom six at an affordable salary. John Moore, while still a project, seems to have it better between the ears than MDZ.

In sum, we received three solid players who have averaged 46 games for the Rangers while Gaborik has only started 30 games for the Blue Jackets, with only 8 goals to boot. Plus, we all know that when Gabby isn’t scoring, he isn’t bringing much else to the table. I’d grade this trade an A.

As for Tortorella, I’ve already spoken about his firing at length and heavily disagreed with the decision. In my opinion, I thought they should have just hired a PP coach. Not to re-hash old arguments, but I questioned the direction of this franchise and the loss of our team’s identity. Since then, neither of those questions have been answered and that’s on Sather.

To compound the issue, instead of bringing in a coach with similar systems, but perhaps a more ‘player friendly’ personality, they hired AV — Torts’ polar opposite. Again, not to rehash old arguments, but I said this summer that relying on AV as our lone move would not be enough, and it hasn’t. To date, the only trade that has been made for a roster player was the one for Justin Falk.

Of course, the lack of moves has a lot to do with the lack of cap flexibility, which could have been absolved by using their last compliance buyout on Brad Richards. Retaining Richie was yet another decision that I wasn’t on board with. Sure, you can argue qualitatively he’s been better this season, but at the end of the day, he’s on pace for 55 points, the same as last year.

Meanwhile, we could have gone after Jarome Iginla (1yr $6M), Valtteri Filppula (5yr $25M), Clarke MacArthur (2y $6.5M), or Daniel Alfredsson (1yr $5.5M), all of whom are productive players that were signed to reasonable contracts, and probably would have been better fits.

Taking all of this into account, I can’t give Sather a high grade at this point. Hopefully he makes some adjustments to this roster in the second half and we start playing to everyone’s expectations.

Mid-Season Grade: C-


  1. Sally says:

    I gave Sather a C in the poll, but after reading your post, I think both of us were too generous. What stood out for me was the comment that Sather could have hired a PP coach and the fact that he went 360 degrees in hiring a coach. I have felt all season that there is some sort of disconnect between AV, the players and management. AV acts surprised by the roster of players. Did he not watch tapes before his interview or did Sather make promises that he didn’t fulfill?

    • AD says:

      Sather made it clear the team, under Tortorella, was playing “unwatchable” hockey, not realizing at the time this year’s on-ice product would be truly hideous, at times.

      C- for a GM is a failing grade when you consider GM decisions usually impact teams for several seasons, and often change course of direction for that team. Sather has changed the course of direction for this Rangers team. We were told it would be more offensive (24th in 5v5 situations) without compromising our defense (not pretty); and that the players would have more smiles on their faces when going to the rink (Hank doesn’t seem too happy this year). This latter representation is embarrassing for an organization such as the Rangers; more smiles on their faces? Really? What a bufoon Sather is.

      When it comes to the GM position, the grade should either be “P” for pass, or “F” for fail. Sather gets an “F” this year, and for his entire 14 year tenure as Rangers GM.

      And, for the record, no, AV did not watch tape before his interview. In fact, he honestly admitted he did not even watch tape AFTER he was hired or throughout the pre-season. Can you say “Taylor Pyatt; 22 games; often with better than 3rd line minutes”?

      • Sally says:

        So you are telling me he (AV) started the season with no plan? If that is true, he gets an F for the season and management should rethink their hiring choice.

      • Dave says:

        The no video thing was a bit overblown. Everyone was praising him for the clean slate he was giving everyone.

        • AD says:

          Well watching or not watching video is one of those subjective things each fan has their own view of. Personally, unlike some fans, I was never alarmed when Tortorella openly stated he never researched opponents, and was only focused on getting his players to play their game. Similar to that, AV not viewing film on the players he inherited as coach didn’t alarm me, too much; it did some, but not too much. But, after observing his personnel and lineup decisions this season, I must say in hindsight AV not watching film of his players going into the season has hurt the club. AV’s taken too much time getting up the learning curve with knowing his players, in m¥ view.

          Putting that aside, because it isn’t a big issue either way, what’s your reaction to the “P” or “F” concept of grading a GM? And, if it was either “P” or “F” what grade would you assign to Sather?

          • Dave says:

            Pass/Fail is too black and white for me. There are many levels of pass.

            • AD says:

              got it

              • The Suit says:

                The whole ‘I don’t know anything about this team’ narrative from AV was BS. It was just an attempt to give the players a clean slate and a crafty way of dodging inevitable beat writer questions about last year’s issues.

                It wasn’t reported in the NY media, but Torts actually told Canucks fans at a Season Ticket Holder meeting that he and AV had extensive conversations over the summer about each other’s roster. Torts said that for a while they were talking every few days. While it’s a direct contradiction to what AV was preaching, to be honest, I don’t blame him.

              • Dave says:

                I remember reading that. AV and Torts are professionals, they know how to do their jobs.

                AV just happens to be better and handling the media.

        • Sally says:

          I guess I equate not watching the videos to not having a game plan when he got here. By not knowing who is roster was and how they played provided the coaching staff with some not so nice surprises.
          This may not mean anything in the long run.

  2. Walt says:

    Lets see, sending Gabby to Columbus was a very good move, and getting back the players we did was a steal, while cutting some cap space as well!

    The firing of Torts was a good move at the time, but I have had second thoughts about it, seeing that the hiring of AV might not have been the best move after all!!

    Keeping BR will prove to be a mistake. He came in this season with something to prove. He started like gang busters, but has cooled off big time, and will continue to go down from here. BR will be a buy out at season’s end, and this will be a moot point! Also by keeping BR Slats tied his own hands for player moves, and it’s affected the team.

    The one thing you didn’t mention was Pyatt. That move should have been made months ago, again tieing his hads for player moves.

    Grade D- at best!!

  3. Dave says:

    You’re going to see a lot of roster turnover after this season. Too many guys are hitting free agency.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      I’m haven’t thrown the towel in on this season, because we have a very legitimate shot at making the playoffs, and once you’re in, who knows what’s gonna happen…. BUT is it a bad thing that I’m already looking forward to this offseason and how our roster will be reshaped for next year?

      • Dave says:

        The Kings and Devils have proven that once you’re in, you never know what happens.

        Nothing wrong with looking forward to subsequent years, I do it all the time.

  4. SalMerc says:

    Slat’s move of Torts was more about cutting out a problem. I do think that the Tort-out and AV-in scenario came so quickly that the GM hasn’t been able to make the roster more AV-like. He should have been able to add a few guys to round out the lines though. One additional thought for you; knowing the AV way, wouldn’t you have thought MDZ was a perfect defenseman for him?

    • The Suit says:

      To be honest, no. MDZ’s issues go far beyond needing a different voice in the locker room.

      After 282 games in the NHL, you would think MDZ would have figured out for himself when to pinch, pass, dump, cover, etc. regardless whether someone is whispering instructions or yelling them.

      • SalMerc says:

        I hear you, but other than being lefty. all I hear is that we need a puck-moving defenseman. MDZ has shown that he can do that, although some of his choices are ill-advised.

        • The Suit says:

          True, though who would have thought our entire team (save Kreider and McD) offense would fall off a cliff.

          • SalMerc says:

            Our offense has not been great for 3 years. We need to figure out a way to get “lines of offense” instead of leaning on players alone. Stepan, Nash, Cally all need help to score. I think Kreider and Zucc show how effort and intensity results in points. Pouliot is showing that now too. The rest of the lines should watch some tape of that line.

  5. Kevin says:

    Gaborik trade was a B, at best. firing or not firing Torts is a wash since the main issue of the last five years was goal scoring and that still hasn’t been fixed.

    I’ve been saying that the front office is a two headed monster that is constantly fighting itself on which direction to go in.

    • Dave says:

      I think it was Pension Plan Puppets that wrote a post regarding GMs, and how their personal plans to keep their jobs may not always align with the team plan. It’s a very well thought out piece.

      I don’t think that’s the case here because Slats has been GM for so long (and his replacement will be from within). But interesting nonetheless.

      • Kevin says:

        Well, look at the players the team drafts, compared to the players Sather brings in via UFA and trades. It seems, to me, like two different ideologies

    • The Suit says:

      I don’t think it was a wash since our 5-on-5 offense has nose dived from 13th in the league last year to 29th.

  6. Bayman says:

    I think it’s clear Torts has a shelf life as a coach. Players tune him out at some point. Had that moment arrived? Hard to say, but if the moment hadn’t arrived, it probably wasn’t too far off, either. Better to remove him a year to soon than a year too late.

    • The Suit says:

      Well everyone in this game has a shelf life, but you raise an interesting point.

    • Dave says:

      Hit the nail on the head here. I would have liked to see what removing Sully from the equation would have done.

      • Sally says:

        I don’t think getting rid of Sully and keeping Torts was possible. Torts seems to be a very loyal friend. He got Sully the job in Vancouver.

  7. JoeS. says:

    Suit gotta say, that was an excellent post and I agree with just about all of it!

  8. flatbush says:

    The suit has it spot on.

  9. The Suit says:

    Thanks guys, much appreciated.