Why Blame Sather?

Signing Bobby Holik and Darius Kasparaitis was big for the Rangers. Big for size, big for what kind of players they are, and big for their money. There are a lot of debates on that topic, which then created the blaming on Sather and the Rangers payroll. I just want to present what I have to say about it. Starting with Holik, I’ve said this many times. Three teams bidding for Holik, and they are: Rangers, Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils.

The Devils made their last offer of a long term contract to Holik worth $8 million dollars a season. The Maple Leafs and the Rangers beat that price, obviously. Reports did say that the Maple Leafs offered $8.5 million dollars a season to Bobby Holik. No reports did mention the Rangers early offers, however. In the end, the Rangers made an offer of $9 million dollars a season, showing that they desperately needed him. It was also said that Pat Quinn did mention to a radio station that he did offer $9 million dollars to Holik.

Two scenarios:

1: Quinn did offer $9 million dollars a season to Holik, but Holik chose to stay in the metro-area and the Rangers bonuses were more valuable than the Maple Leafs bonuses.

2: Quinn didn’t make a true statement, but showed his effort to the fans that he really did try to not be cheap with the UFA’s. But, after signing Fitgerald, Aaron Gavey, Belfour, and then refusing to go after Cassels, Fleury, and Amonte…that tells me that the effort wasn’t really there now, was it?

So, would you have made such a big deal if the Leafs did sign Holik for $9 million dollars a season? Or even $8.5 million a season? I seriously, and highly, doubt that the media would. What if the Devils had to pay that much? I doubt that the media would criticize them as much. Come on, don’t deny it. The media can’t compliment the Rangers more than criticize them, unless the Rangers are a top team. Don’t deny it, the media proved it enough during the Jagr and Lindros saga in the summer of 2001.

Flashback: The Penguins had to trade Jaromir Jagr, and the team most likely to land him were the Rangers (weren’t we all surprised). The media attacked the Rangers and Sather by yelling out that the Rangers would usually give up their youth. In addition, the media nixed Sather’s plan of building the youth for the Rangers. But, what happened? The Capitals popped in and landed Jagr for three prospects. Sather stuck to his plan of keeping the youth, yet he still got criticized. All that was said, and still is, was that Sather missed out on Jagr. The media contradicted itself there, and that proves enough that they can’t compliment a rich team more than criticizing it.

So, the media would have done the same with Holik. If the Rangers didn’t sign Holik, then they’d call them the “miss outs”. If they did, then they’ be called “the usual big money spending team”. Just like the first two off-seasons of Glen Sather. The media criticized Sather for not addressing the team’s needs. Sather only did sign Vladimir Malakhov, Mark Messier, Igor Ulanov, Dave Karpa, Andreas Johansson, and Zdeno Ciger. No real big names or high priced players there. But, he still got criticized for that. When Sakic and Rob Blake were UFA’s, the media pointed fingers at the Rangers, and when they both signed with the Avalanche, they still pointed their fingers at the Rangers. Something just doesn’t make sense.

Moving on to the Rangers so called “pathetic” $70 million dollar payroll. By signing Holik and Kasparaitis, the media points fingers at Sather again and blames it all on him. Why? Because he addressed the team’s needs? Because in order for the Rangers to get Holik they had to spend $9 million dollars a season? Same with Kasparaitis? Now, the talks for the 2004 lock-out season have the term salary cap mentioned many times. The reaction to that: Rangers would have a very hard time. Why? Well, I really don’t know. Did Sather sign Pavel Bure for $11 million dollars this season? No. Did Sather re-sign Leetch and paying him $9.6 million dollars for this season? No. Did Sather sign Sylvain Lefebvre and paying him $2.5 million dollars this season? No. The salaries of those three players total up to $22.1 million dollars this season. Subtract that from the current payroll and the total would be around $50 million dollars. Big difference, right?

I am not saying that Sather will get rid of those players, but Glen Sather didn’t sign those players. If Poti has a solid offensive season, and Leetch an underachieving season, then Leetch would be traded or be “let go”. Sather wouldn’t mind that. Sather knows how to build a young team through draft. In fact, people and the media don’t recognize the fact that Glen Sather is building a young and strong Hartford Wolfpack team, and lately letting veteran Brad Smyth and Derek Armstrong go. Sather’s draft picks have been better than Neil Smith’s. Rangers future does look bright and scouting sites have the Rangers ranked top 15 in prospects. It’s not great, but it is an improvement, it is a building process.

Sather might be spending big bucks on players, but they are valuable players. Holik, Lindros, Bure, and Kasparaitis are his major big money valuable players. Not Fleury, Kamensky, Kevin Hatcher, Stephane Quintal, and Sylvain Lefebvre. Leetch is a valuable player, but not worth $9.6 million dollars. Richter is a valuable player and he is at the very least worth $4 million dollars this season. With Neil Smith, chances are that no way would Richter have gotten that kind of contract.

There shouldn’t be a lot of fingers pointing at Sather. Now, this goes for any GM who is dealing with a big market team and a fat payroll. Let’s just take a trip in La La Land and see that Bobby Clarke is fired and let’s just say….Bob Gainey is hired. Remember, we are in La La Land. The Flyers are in desperate need of a top offensive defenseman, and Brian Leetch is available. Gainey talks with Snider, who is drunk, and Snider gives him the OK to go out and get Leetch. Now, Gainey wants to also dump Leclair and his big salary, but he can’t, so he is forced to keep him. Gainey signs Brian Leetch to a ridiculous $9.5 million dollars a season contract. He had to though, and the Flyers payroll is too high now. But, it wouldn’t be too high if Leclair wouldn’t be on the team. Who is to blame for that payroll? Gainey, or Clarke? I’d say Clarke. He signed Leclair and other worthless players, not Gainey.

It’s not easy to understand what I am trying to say, but I hope you do. I know it isn’t much and I’m just using my mind writing this article, but I disagree with the fact that all fingers are pointed on Sather. I disagree with the fact that small market teams are blaming big market teams. The first to blame should be the players and the agents (i.e. Iginla, Theodore, and Meehan).

Sather is not trying to create problems, he is doing his job. Any GM, even Burke, would do the same right now with the Rangers. Rangers are building youth and the youth will lower the payroll once they are ready to make the NHL.

This is all I want to say. Challenge me and start a debate. Immature and useless comments will show nothing and mean nothing. So, if you’re a Rangers basher and have nothing to really say, but a lame and dull critic, forget it…don’t even bother posting it because it means nothing.

Micki Peroni