Sather Talks Tough On His Free Agents and the NHL

Sather has some choice words at the draft (Barton Silverman/The New York Times)

Sather has some choice words at the draft (Barton Silverman/The New York Times)

If you held any hope that last year’s Rangers would somehow stay together, they were instantly dashed yesterday. 

Glen Sather addressed the media after the draft and had some choice words for his free agents, restricted and unrestricted alike.

The first shot Sather fired was at unrestricted free agents Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman. If you have been following closely, Boyle has said he wants a much larger role going forward. On breakup day, head coach Alain Vigneault already intimated that Boyle’s role is that of a 3rd/4th liner who kills penalties. Anton also wants more money that can only be justified with a much larger role as well. Slats’ comments basically shut the door on both.

“You start to look at the philosophy of a team and how it’s structured and whether you have first, second, third or fourth line players and whether they play 18 minutes or 10 minutes, they are all important parts of the hockey team that help you get where you are and the reason we got where we were is because we have a good coach and staff, a team philosophy which is why you will win and inside that philosophy is roles for different players and if they will accept it, you will have a good team but if you don’t have players who will accept it then you have conflict all the time and that creates problems. I don’t want problems, I want guys who will play in the team structure, that is how you win.”

Then the questions moved on to 1 hit wonder, Benoit Pouliot and the salty GM held no punches on that front.

 “…He found a place where he was very comfortable, the coach liked him, that line was very good together, they had a good structure, good chemistry and now you move onto another place and you get back into the same situation you were in a few years ago which doesn’t always work. I think you need to decide yourself what is more important, winning or getting a few more dollars some place else.”

Sather continued later by saying that he would take winning over money every time. After reading that, where do you think Pouliot will be next season? Not in Rangers Blue is my take. When Sather adds that JT Miller will have a much larger role going forward, you realize these guys won’t be coming back.

When asked about UFA Dominic Moore, “I would like to have everyone back but realistically I think it’s going to be complicated… one is the cap not going up and the other is where we ended up at the end of the year.”

While Sather continued to talk tough, he wasn’t all gloom and doom when he discussed RFA’s. “Zuccarello had a great year, he played well and he does everything that you want him to do, sees the ice as well as anyone in the game.” However, Sather continued with “So Zucc has only had one really good year so far.” In other words, calm down with your contract demands.

As for hulking forward Chris Kreider, he reminded everyone that he started this season in the minors. The intent of that comment is to let the Kreider camp know, he is far from where he needs to be.

Slats confirmed that all RFA’s received qualifying offers and concluded his comments on his free agents with this statement:

“We said that we would like to retain everybody but we think that will be difficult because of where the cap is today and because of the expectations of us being able to pay huge dollars because we got to the Final but we didn’t win. So, I think realistically some guys need to pull the horns in a little bit.”

At this point, Sather could’ve just dropped the mic and walked away.

Instead, he decided to expand his displeasure at the league and it’s handling of the cap and free agency. “Heck, it was a surprise for every guy out here. We all expected it to be higher. We’ll do what we have to do.” Sather later explained, “we already traded one guy to give us some relief, we had a real good idea that it wasn’t going to be $70 million so we had to make some room – we will see what happens in the next week.”

As for the new UFA process in which teams can now interview players a week before July 1st:

“To me it’s a little strange. You are not supposed to negotiate but you can talk but you can’t make a deal but I hear all kinds of numbers being batted around by guys that have offered contracts to guys for huge dollars so I don’t know if that is true but that is what I heard on the street.”

Pretty scathing stuff by the veteran GM. Will it help or hurt in negotiations? We will know on July 1st.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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