James Dolan and Glen Sather will own whatever happens next to the New York Rangers. You can forget about who the next coach is going to be. Forget about if Chris Drury can bring in a player like Jack Eichel without giving up the farm. Put aside the Blueshirts reshaping the bottom six with a little more size and grit to compete against the Islanders, or Tom Wilson.
The moment Sather got into owner Dolan’s ear leading to the decision to dismiss John Davidson and Jeff Gorton, they own all of this. For better or worse, if the Rangers win the Cup or meander for the next decade as just a playoff team, it’s on them.
James Dolan and Glen Sather made this decision together
”We want to thank JD and Jeff for their contributions to the organization. They are both great hockey professionals who worked hard for the Rangers, however, in order for the team to succeed in the manner our fans deserve, there needs to be a change in leadership,” owner James Dolan said in the first press release after the dismissals began. “Chris is a very sought-after executive and a strong leader, who has proven himself to be one of the top young minds in hockey. We are confident he will effectively guide the team to ensure the long-term success we promised Rangers fans.”
Where did this come from? A change in leadership was needed? For years, Dolan has been so preoccupied with the Knicks that he’s been completely hands off with the Rangers. How did he go from 0 to mach speed out of nowhere? According to several published reports, it may be linked to when Glen Sather began showing up around the Garden late in the season.
The move to fire Davidson in Gorton was clouded by the timing. James Dolan demanded a statement be released calling for NHL Player Safety Head, George Parros to step down in the wake of the Tom Wilson incident. Conspiracy theorists immediately pointed to this one specific reason for the firings. Fact is, Dolan does have that impetuous reputation but this wasn’t about one issue. Even if it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, there was more to it.
Glen Sather is James Dolan’s guiding light for hockey decisions
Dolan said in an interview that the wheels were set in motion some time in March to make changes. Oddly, it coincided with the Rangers becoming one of the hottest teams in the NHL for a month. Without Dolan being more specific, this doesn’t add up.
“I started thinking about it 20 or 25 games ago at a time when the team really needed to show heart and we had key games — I won’t be specific — where we had to show up and had to come out strong, and even if we lost, it had to be our best effort,” Dolan said. “And we clearly had nowhere close to our best effort.”NY Post
Larry Brooks elicited some other insightful tidbits in his chat with the head of MSG. In particular, Dolan admitted that other owners got in his ears about how much talent the Rangers have and how they aren’t winning already. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s when he called Sather to come back to check it out and let him know what he should do next.
How much influence does Glen Sather have?
When Sather stepped down as President in 2019 to become an adviser and to help find his successor, Dolan bestowed incredible praise on him. “Since he first joined the Rangers 19 years ago, Glen Sather has been singularly focused on delivering our fans a team that can consistently compete for the Stanley Cup. In doing so, Glen has become one of the most successful executives in Rangers history, and his current strategy has set the team on the right path to achieve our ultimate goal.”
Sather helped bring in John Davidson and he didn’t make it a full two years. So excuse me if I find Dolan’s comments in 2019 and the recent actions in contrast with each other. There’s no doubt Sather is a successful executive but that mostly took place in Edmonton. When he became the GM in 2000 he missed the playoffs for 4 consecutive seasons. Before stepping down in 2015 as GM, he had missed the playoffs 5 times in 15 years with just one Stanley Cup loss in 2014 to his credit. Not exactly the definition of “success” for many in New York.
For anyone who doubts how much influence Sather has, back in 2015 James Dolan publicly stated that he’s with the Rangers for life. “Glen is not allowed to leave,” Dolan relayed to the NY Post. “No, seriously, he can’t leave until we win the Cup. He’s agreed to that.”
Dolan also made it very clear back then what Sather’s primary function is. “For me, I need Glen to stay attached to the team and guide the team and have oversight,” he said. “In my mind he’s doing that.” And apparently still doing it today.
Dolan and Sather own this, good or bad
The dye has been cast, and both Dolan and Sather are fortunate they had Chris Drury in the organization to take over. Of course, that was due in large part to Jeff Gorton, who not only brought him in but groomed him for the role.
Regardless, and I can’t stress this enough, Dolan and Sather own this. That means getting all the praise in the world if the Rangers win a Cup in the next few seasons. Should the Rangers fail, don’t go blaming Chris Drury or the next head coach either. This falls squarely on the shoulders’ of the owner and his consigliere.
The decision to fire two of the most respected men in hockey, whom many experts believed had the Rangers on the path to a potential dynasty is theirs. They own it all now, good or bad.
For the sake of all Rangers fans, I hope my next article on them is about how they accelerated the team into Champions in the spring of 2021.
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