With exit interviews continuing into their second day, talk, surprisingly, has been less about what the players have said and more on the front office. With good reason, there are still questions about what role Glen Sather and Jim Dolan will have on Rangers operations. As per usual, I have thoughts.
1. The common concern is that both Sather and Dolan will bend Chris Drury to their will. This means face punchers, dealing skill for an antiquated definition of grit, and a return the the early 2000’s Rangers that Sather ran. Those concerns certainly have some merit, but I think they, like the old definition of hockey grit, have some deep flaws and are based on fears, not reality.
2. First regarding Sather, I think his role is way overblown. He’s been an advisor for the Rangers since he stepped down as GM some years ago. His biggest flaw, if he does have any “pull” with Drury, is face punchers. There are few and far between left in the NHL. The Donald Brashear’s don’t exist anymore. That’s good news for the Rangers. Plus, on a total aside, even if Sather has his way, there are worse things in life than a 14F puncher. The difference is that David Quinn doesn’t really like to play the punchy-only guys.
3. Regarding Dolan, we are terrified because of what happened with the Knicks for the last 20 years or so. Dolan meddled, and look what happened. The difference this year is that the Knicks made high profile analytics hires. And the Knicks are all of a sudden relevant this season. Given their success, it is likely Dolan’s only true input will be to approve an augmented analytics group for the Rangers.
4. You read that right, I don’t think that Sather or Dolan will have a true input into how Chris Drury runs the Rangers.
This article from Larry Brooks reassured me a bit. Drury isn’t a puppet, and he won’t be controlled by people who haven’t made a hockey decision in years.
5. What also reassured me a bit is how he has addressed questions about how he is approaching this offseason. He was managing the exit interviews, and was very non-committal on any decisions. That included David Quinn’s future as head coach. He’s looking at all avenues to improve this team.
6. Which circles back to the role Glen Sather and Jim Dolan will have with the Rangers operations. From the top down, Dolan will likely just be an approver of a process and a few hires. Sather will be a guide, but not the determining force or decision maker. This is Chris Drury’s team.