Sather VS. The Media

What will it be? I see the media criticize the Rangers when they sign a couple of big UFA’s, and now I see the media criticize the Rangers when they did not sign big UFA players. Well make up your mind, this is not normal. GM Glen Sather chose something new in Rangers history, and it is a tough gutsy move for him.

The New York Rangers were known to look for the big name players, over-pay them, and sometime come up with either something or nothing in return. Well, for the past 4 years with former GM Neil Smith and Dave Checketts (a.k.a. Mr. Basketball) the Rangers signed big names that made the team look like a playoff team on paper but a pitiful team to watch.

Finally, that nightmare is over for Rangers fans. For those 4 years we all, hockey fans in general, have heard of the Rangers being a high payroll team with no good young players and a team to criticize, probably the favorite team for the media to criticize on. When the 2000-2001 season ended and the Free Agency Market was soon to be open, the media predicted in a criticizing way that the Rangers were going to sign big names like Hasek, Sakic, Blake, or trade for either Lindros and Jagr, or even both. The mood of the media seemed irritated that the Rangers would have done those moves, almost like “oh, the usual routine of the Rangers.” Well, it seems that the media forgot of Glen Sather being the GM and Jim Dolan taking Checketts’ position. Sather told the press that he was looking to sign around two UFA players. The media seemed to ignore that and insisted that the Rangers were going to spend money. Turned out that the media was wrong, and their predictions were not even close to being correct. Sather ended up signing two UFA players, as he said, whom he wanted and who would help the team’s problem, in this case defense. Everyone, especially the media, was surprised and shocked that the Rangers did not sign one big name. Well, cancel Sakic, Blake, Roy, and Hasek off the list because as soon as the clock hit midnight for July 1st, they were signed. So what does the media do? Well they want to express their thoughts on Sather and the Rangers, so they stick with criticizing the Rangers.

The media criticized Sather and the Rangers by categorizing them as “losers” or “miss outs”. Sather did not even bother reacting to that, since it was so pitiful. At first you have the media criticizing the Rangers of “probably” signing too many UFA players and since their criticism and predictions failed, they criticized the Rangers by accusing them of failure to sign a big name UFA. What kind of an immature media is this? The media did not even bother complimenting Sather’s clean up of Smith’s mess. The media did not even compliment Sather of signing 9 former top rookies who were selected in the 1999 draft who were selected 1st to 5th round, unsigned because of contract issues. Those 9 youngsters will be on the Hartford Wolfpack, which was ridiculously built by Smith.

The media did not criticize enough though. The “Failing Rangers” was not a great success for the media to attract hockey fans. So, the media turned its eyes on Lindros and Jagr. They made the right choices because both players were possible trades. The way the pictured it to the hockey fans was also negative. Predicting that the Rangers would do the usual thing of “trading the whole youth for a big name player” was just incorrect. Guess what? The media was wrong again. The media turned the Jagr to Rangers idea in their own way. The media predicted that the Rangers would have traded one of their top two prospects, two young talented players on the team, a draft pick and money for Jagr. Luckily, the New York media gave the right information, with names. After that, the media changed their ideas and made Sather look like the “cheap” GM who only wanted to give up two players for Jagr, making Patrick the victim. Again, the New York media proved them wrong. Sather offered Kim Johnsson, Jan Hlavac, and Mike York to the Penguins. The media only mentioned Johnsson and York. Then Sather was asked questions regarding the surprisingly Jagr to Washington deal and Sather was told of what Patrick wanted; Lundmark, Brendl, and Kloucek, but Sather added “more than that”. Later, Radek Dvorak was said to be part of Patrick’s request. Did Sather make the right move here? Rangers fans said yes, Sather himself said yes, New York media said yes, but the media in general said not, obviously to criticize Sather. You’re telling me that the Sather should have traded Lundmark, Brendl, Dvorak, and Kloucek for Jaromir Jagr? No way Jose`.

The New York media actually applauded Sather for deciding not to trade the young talent for Jagr, and most Rangers fans themselves were happy, so was I. But why did the media criticize Sather? The Hockey News commented the Rangers missing out on Jagr in a negative way by also adding that the Rangers offer was only Johnsson and York. Either way, there was no way the media would have complimented Sather. If Sather did make a trade for Jagr, then the media would have criticized Sather for trading youth for a spoiled whiny Jagr. The sad thing is that what I am saying here, is the truth. Sather actually has the guts to accept criticism from the media. Neil Smith would have choked at some point and would have been able to trade what Patrick wanted for Jagr. So now the media is left with Lindros. This makes the media lose against Sather. They can only come up with one thing to criticize Sather and that is “he will trade for headache Lindros”. Well, no close signs at all of Lindros to Rangers, yet.

I think Sather deserves compliments with what he has done in one year. He has cleaned up Smith’s mess (pretty big), he has added youth, he has kept the talented youth, and he has added defensive help. That is a lot for just one year, especially if you’re cleaning up someone’s mess.

The Rangers might not look good on paper without Kamensky, Quintal, Taylor, MacLean, McLean, K. Hatcher, and Lefebvre. But, they will look better on ice, that is what counts. The Rangers have a better defensive team with Karpa and Ulanov, along with a healthy Malakhov, but they also added Johansson who is a 2-way player along with Ciger.

The looks of Jaime Lundmark and Pavel Brendl joining the team next season look pretty good, but I have to make some predictions. I say the Jaime Lundmark is most likely joining the Rangers this season. Lundmark went from 180 lbs to 195 lbs of muscle. Brendl still looks a bit shaky, but will improve everyday. I see Brendl making the Wolfpack and then joining the Rangers for a few games to see if he is ready. Lundmark is the Rangers future center along with Mike York. They are two very similar players, Lundmark being bigger in size. Rangers will have Fleury back scoring 30+ goals, Dvorak possibly scoring 30+ goals again, Hlavac scoring 30 goals as a career high, Nedved scoring 30+ goals, York coming in healthy scoring 20+ goals, and maybe Messier will get 20 goals but I doubt that. Ciger is said to score 20+ goals too, especially if he plays with Nedved. Who knows if Malhotra Messier and Dvorak will be as good as they were at the end of last season and maybe Malhotra scoring 20 goals too? Rangers have the offense, and they fixed the defense a bit. The only missing piece of the puzzle is goaltending. Richter seems to be coming in earlier than expected and maybe on the team by the 10th regular season game. Will Sather trade for a goalie, or will he bring up a surprising rookie goalie like Holmqvist? Guy Hebert will not be coming back next season. Rangers look pretty good to me, better than last season. So why would they be worse than last season? Obviously they won’t, it’s common sense.

Any comments accepted, also private messages, but I will be away for a while.

Micki Peroni