Rangers Rumors: No Mike Sullivan, and who wanted Mike Babcock?

mike sullivan
May 15, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan walks off the ice after losing to the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime of game seven of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers fantasy scenario where Mike Sullivan somehow leaves the Pittsburgh Penguins to coach on Broadway is over.

And it came straight from the horse’s mouth.

Rangers Rumors: No Mike Sullivan

Sullivan, 55, told the NY Post that he wasn’t leaving the Penguins on Wednesday.

“No, I am under contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, here for the long haul,” he said over the phone.

NY Post

It isn’t surprising that Sullivan wanted to set the record straight since the idea came from Post reporter Larry Brooks. In a recent article, he wrote that a Leafs elimination could lead to a complete housecleaning in Toronto. The Pens are looking for a GM and Kyle Dubas would’ve been their top candidate. His hiring may have led to Sheldon Keefe coaching the team making Sullivan available.

Since that story ran, Dubas told the press he’s either back with the Leafs or taking a break.

Sullivan has a record of 407-253-15 over 10 seasons split between the Bruins and Penguins. He’s won the Stanley Cup twice with Pittsburgh (2016 and 2017) and has a playoff record of 47-42.

The Rangers coaching search goes on.

Not everyone was interested in Mike Babcock

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

One name mentioned in the Rangers coaching search that has drawn the ire of fans is Mike Babcock. Despite the 60 year-old bench boss having won a Cup with the Detroit Red Wings back in 2008, his harsh tactics to motivate players was a factor in his 2019 dismissal from Toronto and subsequent inability to land a new gig.

Multiple reports stated that the Blueshirts made several calls either to or about Babcock. Elliotte Friedman updated the situation on Wednesday’s 32 Thoughts Podcast.

“Not everyone in the Rangers organization wanted to do Babcock,” Friedman said. “But I think there were some who wanted to pursue it.”

This little piece of information is extremely intriguing to me. Who wanted to look into Babcock as a potential hire? If it wasn’t President and General Manager Chris Drury, then who above him made the call?

Based on a logical organizational chart, only owner James Dolan would be able to authorize it. Which likely means Glen Sather, who remains with the Rangers in an advisory role to Dolan, played a part here.

It was noted in The Athletic after John Davidson and Jeff Gorton were fired that Sather had a hand it that.

While many believed the Tom Wilson incident triggered the dismissals, it was already decided before that ever happened to let them go. That’s why neither of them were made privy to the letter regarding the incompetence of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety leading to a hefty fine.

Sather, 79, stepped down at the team’s GM in 2015 but remained president. He eventually “retired” in 2019 and has been Dolan’s advisor ever since.

“Glen is not allowed to leave,” Dolan told the NY Post in 2015. “No, seriously, he can’t leave until we win the Cup. He’s agreed to that.”

Well, the Rangers haven’t won a Cup since Sather joined the organization after Neil Smith was fired in 2000.

For an owner that everyone feels is quick to make knee-jerk decisions, his loyalty to Sather is remarkable.

I wrote after the Rangers changed course from the 2018 rebuild by firing Gorton to expedite matters that both Sather and Dolan own what happens next.

If the Rangers win it all while Sather is here, he deserves plenty of credit. However with one Cup in 83 years and counting, it’s fair to ask just how much say he has in the team’s decision making.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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