The New York Rangers are one of the most made fun of teams in the league by opposing teams' fans. While most accusations don't apply to today's Rangers, they sure did not too long ago. While Glen Sather is a wizard in the trade department, the same can not be said for the free agent department.
As if the nickname Rags wasn't enough, the Rangers were awarded a new nickname, one very similar.
Over the years we've seen disastrous signings by Glen Sather. While they were awful transactions, a select few, like every cloud, had silver linings. For the most part though, they crippled the team and hindered it from moving forward towards achieving greatness.
The following is a list, in order, of the worst signings made by the Rangers in this millennium.
During the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Donald Brashear caught Blair Betts in open ice with a cheap shot. Ranger fans relentlessly booed Brashear and his actions immediately lit a fire in the minds of Ranger fans.
It was only about two months later when Glen Sather signed Brashear to a two-year deal worth $2.8 million. Not only is $1.4 million a year a gross overpayment for an enforcer, but all Ranger fans hated the guy's guts.
Shortly after joining the Rangers, Brashear was part of a meet-and-greet with Ranger fans, and was booed when given the microphone. Brashear responded to the booing, promptly and assertively.
Those fans that are booing, I'll take you one-by-one.
What a great way to get your fans to have interest in their players. Sign a guy they hate and who also talks back to them in an aggressive manner. Just the kind of guy you want on the team.
In his first season with the Rangers, Brashear was eventually waived by the club in February, 2011.
Signing Brashear was definitely not one of Sather's better moves.
We all saw a very serviceable Michal Rozsival last season with the Phoenix Coyotes. No one can deny that he had a solid defensive year. Although, this is 2012, not July 1st, 2008.
Rozsival was coming off of a 40 point season and Sather felt it was necessary to lock him up. He signed the 29-year-old defenseman to a four year deal worth $20 million. Since signing that contract, the Czech defenseman has seen a decrease in production every single year. Not exactly what you want from a player that is carrying a $5 million cap hit.
The Rangers eventually shipped him off to Phoenix in 2011 for enigmatic forward, Wojtek Wolski; a move that saw the Rangers clear up $1.2 million in cap space. Wolski was eventually traded last season after a lethargic effort under coach Tortorella.
One day after the other, Sather went 0-for-2. He signed Darius Kasparaitis and Bobby Holik, who has his own slide that I'll get to later.
On July 2nd, 2002, the Rangers outbid the Toronto Maple Leafs for Kaspar's services. The Rangers won the bidding war with a 6 year, $25.5 million contract. Boy do they wish they let him go to Toronto. Here's what Kaspar had to say about his short stint in Colorado before he signed with the Rangers.
I play a good defensive hockey game. I learned a lot of good things in Colorado, they teach me all the good things.
Well Kaspar, it's too bad you couldn't bring the "good things" to New York, whatever those things were. In four seasons with New York, he tallied only 34 points, before finishing up the last two years of his contract in Hartford with the Rangers minor league affiliate. After his contract was up, he played for two years in the Russian league, the KHL, before officially retiring from hockey.
However, there is one good thing that came from Kaspar. The NHL's newfound tradition of the stick salute was his idea and the Rangers pioneered it. League wide, after a win, the home team will gather at center ice and salute their fans. It's very cool.
I'm still wondering what those "good things" actually are.
July 1st, 2007. A day that Ranger fans will never forget. Not for a good reason, though. The Rangers plucked both Scott Gomez and Chris Drury off of the free agent market, just hours after the frenzy that is free agency, began.
Gomez inked a seven year deal, worth $51.5 million dollars. It's really scary to think that Sather actually did this. It has to make you question the man's level of sanity, or if he even is sane at all.
Gomez went on to record 128 points in his short two year stay with the Rangers. An average of 64 points isn't too shabby. Oh wait, it actually is, if you're pocketing an average of $7.357 million a year like Mr. Gomez.
Now, I know what some of you must be thinking. "How on Earth could he possibly list Gomez at only No. 4?" Rest assured, I have my reasoning and I'm sure a lot of you will agree with it. My reasoning is actually a name.
That name is Ryan McDonagh.
On June 30th, 2009, Glen Sather somehow, miraculously shipped off Scott Gomez and that awful cap hit to Montreal. That's not the best part. In return, the Rangers received the 12th overall pick of the 2007 NHL draft, Ryan McDonagh, now known as Mac Truck.
McDonagh, 23, enjoyed a stellar season last year as the Rangers' brass and fans all saw what the Minnesota native was capable of. Finishing with 32 points and a +25 for the season, McDonagh along with his partner, Dan Girardi, proved to be one of the most dominating shut-down defensive pairs in the NHL.
Ranger fans, you didn't have it too bad with Scott Gomez. Sure it was an awful signing at the time, but how do you think it feels to be a Canadiens fan and watch McDonagh grow into one of the league's best defenseman? Not too good, I'd think. That's why Gomez comes in at only No. 4 on this list.
You know the old saying, "If you can't beat them, join them"? Well for Glen Sather, it goes a bit different. It's more like, "If you can't beat them, buy them." That's exactly what Sather did on July 1st, 2002, when he signed gritty, tough guy, Bobby Holik. The contract was for five years and $45 million. Yes, that's an average of $9 million a year, for a tough guy. It's remarkable, it really is.
The Czech forward had never totaled more than 65 points in a season, yet Sather wanted him to be the No. 1 center and play big time minutes. Sather must've thought the contract would turn out to be a bargain, and if he did, then he was wrong. Big time.
Holik accounted for 81 points in two seasons with the Rangers, before being bought out by the club and joining the Atlanta Thrashers. To this day, Ranger fans still wonder what Glen Sather was thinking the day that he gave Bobby Holik that ludicrous contract.
Five years and $35.5 million. That's what Chris Drury's contract with the New York Rangers, read. Sather, following his mantra of signing Ranger killers, inked Drury after the veteran led the Buffalo Sabres to victory over the Rangers in the 2007 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Drury totaled for only 151 points in three seasons and change. During those seasons, he also totaled for $30.25 million. Not an equal trade-off, is it?
Drury's contract also almost got in the way of another free agent signing, the signing of Brad Richards. The Rangers were near the cap ceiling and if not for Richards' desire to come to New York, the Rangers wouldn't have been able to up their bid in an effort to persuade him with more money.
The Rangers bought out the last year on the 34-year-old's contract and still have to deal with the buy-out cap hit for one more year.
However, the Rangers aren't so lucky with their worst free agent signing, ever.
Coming in at No. 1 on my list is Wade Redden. Having played his whole career in Ottawa, prior to joining the Rangers, Redden was one of the league's top defenseman. Like all great things, they must come to an end, and Redden was declining. That didn't stop Glen Sather from reigning in Redden's services.
Redden agreed to a six-year deal worth $39 million, which put a big, fat cap hit of $6.5 million in the Rangers books. How did Redden reward the Rangers for giving him such a generous contract? By putting up a lousy 40 points in two seasons.
Redden has been anchoring the defense corps of the Connecticut Whale for the last two seasons, and will be doing the same for the next two. His cap hit will reappear next summer and do its best to prevent the Rangers from making equitable and necessary moves.
The one good thing that Redden has done in Connecticut, is act as a mentor to the young, up-and-coming defensemen. Ryan McDonagh was one of those defensemen trying to get by and make a name for himself. He had high praise for the veteran, Redden.
He’s a great guy, a great player for that team down there. He’s toward the end of his career and to go through what he did, he could have a different attitude. But he has an incredible attitude, staying out late on the ice. I ask him a lot of questions. He’s probably sick of me. He’s helped me a lot. A lot of mental things, too.
Redden has good intentions and will continue to mentor any young players in Connecticut that want his advice. However, that doesn't make up for his albatross of a contract and his failure on Broadway.