New York Rangers: What is Glen Sather’s legacy as GM?


With Glen Sather stepping down as GM of the New York Rangers, will history judge his 15 year tenure as their general manager to be a success or not?

In the year 2000, Bill Clinton was President, Henrik Lundqvist was a teenager, and an issue of the New York Post cost 25 cents.

It was also the last year someone not named Glen Sather held the title of General Manager for the New York Rangers.

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15 years after coming to New York, Sather has stepped down as General Manager of the team. He was the second longest tenured executive of a New York sports team, behind only Brian Cashman, in a town not known for long tenured general managers.

Now that the reigns have been handed over to Jeff Gorton, Sather’s right hand man for the past four seasons, the question turns to Sather’s legacy.

When history looks back at his tenure, what will Sather’s legacy be? Will he be remembered as the G.M. who failed to duplicate the success he had with the Edmonton Oilers, or as the executive who left the Rangers as one of best teams in the league today and for years to come?

His first few years in New York are nothing to be proud of. Working in New York before the salary cap, he was free from the financial constraints he had in Edmonton that made signing and keeping marquee free agents tough. Eric Lindros, Scott Gomez, Pavel Bure, Theory Fluery; all-stars acquired and or signed during his first few years. The result seven seasons with no playoff appearances, five of those under Sather.

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His early coaching choices were equally unsuccessful and unpopular. Drawing from his Edmonton roots, Sather hired former Edmonton Oilers head coach Ron Low to join him in New York. After two unsuccessful seasons with him at the helm, Sather fired Low and replaced him Brian Trottier, a former Ranger foe who played for the hated Islanders. He came with no previous head coaching experience, and was hired, according to numerous media reports, based on written answers he gave to a questionnaire about why he would be a good head coach.

Not until 2005 did the Rangers fortunes begin to turn. Building the team through young players, not high priced free agents, became the mantra. And it worked. The Rangers made the playoffs the next four seasons after the arrival of Henrik Lundqvist, and head coach Tom Renney. They brought stability to the Rangers as they continued to add young players like Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, and Derek Stepan to their core. More recently players like Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Mats Zuccarello have continued this trend.

They have enjoyed a lot of success under their past three head coaches. They made the playoffs in four out of the five seasons of both Renney’s and Tortorella’s tenures. Alain Vigneault led them to the Stanley Cup finals last year, and game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals his first two years in New York.

Sather leaves the Rangers in good shape to continue their recent success. The signing Vigneault has paid dividends, and their core is still young. Rick Nash isn’t even 30, and players like Kreider and Miller aren’t even 25 yet.

Ultimately Sather should be remembered for bringing stability and success to the Rangers. While they never won a Cup with him as GM, he made key acquisitions and that should set them up for success in years to come.

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