Monday, December 26, 2011

N.Y. Rangers ~ Islanders; The Rivalry - IV


Game I; 4-2 Isles
Game II; 4-2 NYR
Game III; 4-2 NYR


New York Islanders

33rd STREET at 7th AVENUE

NEW YORK RANGERS:   The View From the Top is Nice.

Rewind your mind to the Lock-Out of 2004-2005; - With a salary cap in place, Hockey's new working model now demanded GM Glen Sather rededicate efforts into drafting talent in leu of an incoherent plan to buy-up the NHL's meat by-products.

Before Glen Sather took charge of Tex's Rangers in 2000, ex-Ranger favorite; Don Maloney; was hired by the prior regime as an Assistant General Manager.  Upon Glen Sather's arrival, he promptly tacked-on Vice President of Player Personnel to Don Maloney's job description.  From 1997, when Maloney was originally hired by the organization, through 2004-05; the year of the Lock-Out; hindsight says his work went largely unnoticed and rendered ineffectual because Hockey operations were still largely overshadowed by Glen Sather's joy for spending Dolan Dollars.

But looking back, Don Maloney's entire body of work as a Rangers' exec deserves a closer look.  The best he and Glen Sather collaborated to bring to 7th Avenue was a team anchored by a pre-lockout star whom the League (namely Washington) could no longer afford; save the Rangers and Glen Sather that is.  That player; Joramir Jagr; would get surrounded with the new-millennium's version of the 'ol Smurfs; something the Ranger fans had grown accustomed to since the 80's.  Youngsters like Domenic Moore, Ryan Hollweg; Petr Prucha; Jed Ortmeyer; etc; etc, drafted prior to the work stoppage were mere fleas on Jagr's posterior when the NHL returned.  Teamed with Glen Sather's other acquisitions such as Straka; Nylander; Avery; etc.; the 2006 Rangers-Lite reached the playoffs for the first time since 1997; - three years before Sather assumed office.  But all Maloney and Sather ever achieved together was being the best of the also-rans.  Tom Renney was Head Coach of the post lockout Rangers then.  Under him, the Rangers played their way into a playoff team but they only made it to the second round once.

In 2007, Don Maloney left to become the Phoenix Coyotes' main man under owner Wayne Gretzky.  But before he did, Maloney left behind a Swedish goalie named Henrik Lundqvist whom he drafted in 2000.  In 2004, he drafted Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan.  In 2005 he drafted Marc Staal.  In 2006, after a long and winding road for another Rangers' defenseman which dates back to the year 2001, Maloney signed an un-drafted Dan Girardi.

In February of 2009 John Tortorella was hired to replace Tom Renney as Head Coach of the New York Rangers Hockey Club.  At once he recognized the Rangers still needed more changes and a different direction than the one forced on Glen Sather by the lockout.  His first move was to destroy the New York Rangers Hockey Club, and began post-haste, cultivating A Team.

He surveyed the Land of the Lost, and discovered a few scattered rough, uncut gems back in Maloney's old laboratory. And at once said, these guys were going to be the nucleus of his vision for the Rangers.  John Tortorella made it very clear since day one, Henrik would be King; and that Dubinsky, Staal, and Callahan would be the foundation on which to build a new team around.  He also recognized the very, very, rough potential in Dan Girardi; just like Maloney once did.

Where there's one, there's usually more.  So John Tortorella scoured the lab further.  He found Artem Anisimov drafted in 2006; and found Michael Sauer, drafted in 2005.

A wise hire by Glen Sather, Gordie Clark (and Jeff Gordon) assumed Player Personnel duties after Maloney left.  Among the current players on the ice, he drafted Carl Hagelin in 2007; Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan in 2008.

Back to Glen Sather, he swung mightily and missed with Scott Gomez.  He swung mightily again with Chris Drury, and you betcha..., missed again.  However the GM saved face by remarkably trading Gomez' contract to Montreal in exchange for a package that brought us Montreal's first round pick; Ryan McDonagh.  And make no mistake about the Brad Richards signing, he used to be one of Tort's guys back in Tampa.  Acquiring Richards was no great feat of GM'ology; not if we're talking about Glen Sather.

To this day, I still maintain John Tortorella exerts far more influence over Glen Sather than we are led to believe.  And who is Glen Sather to question John Tortorella's input.  Of course there's loose ends to this story.  But under Glen Sather, Don Maloney, Tom Renney, and going back to *1997 and *2000, can someone tell me when was the first or last time the Rangers were a legitimate first place team.

Under Glen Sather, the fact that so many young players were allowed to remain together, and are now flourishing is in itself a Miracle on 33rd Street.  I know who to thank, and it ain't Santa Clause.  And he's far from being a Saint.


As of December 26, 2001 - 3:00 p.m.


1) - NEW YORK RANGERS    21-8-4   46 Points
2) - Philadelphia FLYERS    21-9-4   46 Points
3) - Pittsburgh......................20-11-4   44 Points
4) - DEVILS..........................9-14-1    39 Points
5) - ISLANDERS...................11-16-6    28 Points

The view from the top is nice.



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