There was a time in March 2011 while in attendance at MSG for a loss to St. Louis yours truly started a chant from the old 300’s on the 7th Ave end which quickly spread like wild fire through the Garden Faithful. It wasn’t the first time it had been heard under the famous ceiling above Penn Station; at the time an all too familiar ode to the man with perhaps the best job security on the island of Manhattan. “Fire Sather” had a good ring to it, and given the mediocre product that had graced the ice for a third straight season with what seemed no hope to a fruitful ending any time soon, and preceded by a decade’s worth of little to no reward, the blame and vitriol be felled the broad shoulders of the smug and stealth general manager directly sitting just a couple stories above my location that evening.
There was a foolish movement around that time which gained steam through social media on the interweb to stage a protest outside the 9 story cylinder on the corner of 7th and 33rd, to which of course a scant few actually showed up for. Over Glen Sther’s now 14 year run at the helm of the New York Rangers much criticism has been lobbed his way for a perceived mismanagement of a club with lofty expectations that had come to ruins in the years following it’s only championship in the past 73 years. Ranger fans are starved for another sip from Lord Stanley’s Holy Grail, especially having to endure such greatness in recent times from a certain team from the swamp. However, as the club on this day sits one win from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, one must laud the cigar sucking mastermind for his diligence in crafting this club on the precipice of glory.
Throw it back to July/August of 1995 for a moment. Rangers President and GM Neil Smith had just watched his team be discarded by the bigger, stronger force that was the Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers had lost much of their own muscle following their ’94 Cup parade, and those that remained seemed still battle wounded from said excursion. The thought was that Smith must retool the depth and mettle on the roster to combat the broad street Bullies. After an attempt to acquire Shayne Corson from the Blues went awry, out went Sergei Zubov and Petr Nedved for a return of Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson from Pittsburgh. Later that season at the deadline Smith would spin the roulette wheel again as he had in ’94 dealing Mattias Nordstom, Nathan Lafayette, Ray Ferraro and Ian Laperierre to LA for Jarri Jurri, Marty McSorley and Shane Churla. The result? Yet another second round loss, this time at the hands of a highly skilled and speedy Penguins squad, a team he helped bolster with the likes of Nedved and Zubov. The muscle he acquired sacrificed to the offensive flow and speed due to rash decisions to what happened against Philly a year before.
Glen Sather’s entire regime has been predicated by attempts to field a squad with solid offensive depth. While that took a brief back seat in the waning years of John Tortorella, the 2013-’14 incarnation is result of a gradual process which has taken place over the past 14 years. After being handily dispensed at the hands of the much stronger Boston Bruins last year, one might have anticipated such moves to acquiesce to that style of play, which could have become a detriment in the Conference Final series which the Rangers find themselves up 3-1 heading into game 5 tonight in Montreal. the Canadiens play an open, quick transition game which is a match-up that favors this Rangers squad coached by the calm demeanor and offensive mastermind that is Alain Vigneault, and iced by a multitude of offensive weapons both up front and on the back end. This team has the depth and skill to perhaps lift the chalice.
If one does not learn from history, he is doomed to repeat it. All Ranger fans should thank Glen for sticking to his laurels, as well as be thankful some chants fall on deaf ears.