"By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day." Robert Frost
One of the great poets in American literature summed it up perfectly.
Being the boss can be tough as hell.
It's a grind. It's a pain. It's a burden.
It's a job I want to have.
And I don't mean just any old job. For one day, I want to be General Manager of the New York Rangers.
That's right. I'm taking the front office reins from Glen Sather. Figured I'd give him some time off to chomp on his cigars in peace.
After all, he's been at the job since 2000. Take a break, Slats.
Now let's get down to business. Going by last season, the Blueshirts have taken a big leap forward. A regular season record of 51-24-7. Ten playoff wins. A trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Only six wins away from the Stanley Cup.
Here's what Mr. Sather thought of the campaign, according to Pat Leonard at nydailynews.com:
The team played with a lot of big (guts) if you ask me. I thought that they were really good. There was no complaining. Nobody was crying at the end of the year about injuries, and we had 14 guys that are visiting the doctors. So there is a great, committed atmosphere in that organization. These kids deserve all the credit, and Tortorella did an outstanding job keeping them focused and keeping them going in the right direction all year long. I thought it was a great year.
It was a great year, Glen. But some things need to be done, in order to insure that there are more great years ahead.
And whatever dollars I spend need to make absolute sense. I've got a little bit less than $11 million left in salary cap space to work with, when taking into account yesterday's singing of defenseman Steve Eminger.
So how would I improve the Rangers if I were the GM for a day?
Read on to find out how I'd put my twelve hours in.
But before you do, please take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in the tragic terrorist attacks upon our nation 11 years ago today.
Making sure John Tortorella is the head coach of my hockey club for the next few years would be my first order of business.
He's helped the Rangers forge an identity based on blood, sweat and sheer determination. He's pushed talented players like Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh to levels they never knew they could reach.
Now, he has Rick Nash in his arsenal.
He also has the brashness and boldness that defines New York City.
Plus, he's a Stanley Cup winning coach. He knows exactly what it takes to get to the top.
Tortorella's contract runs through the 2013-2014 season. But I don't need to see any more. His body of work speaks for itself.
For all he's done for the organization, I'm giving him a three-year extension. Terms undisclosed.
Up Next: What to do about Del Zotto
Michael Del Zotto is part of the Rangers' core.
And that's exactly where he should be.
He's done with his entry-level contract that had a cap hit of just over a million dollars.
The 22-year-old blueliner had ten goals and 31 assists in 2012.
He's a player who has an upside on both sides of the puck. And he deserves a nice raise.
But he understands how the league's current labor strife can throw a monkey wrench into things.
According to Andrew Gross at northjersey.com, any deal Del Zotto can make before the current CBA expires is likely to be better than what he’ll receive with an expected-to-be-reduced salary cap under a new CBA. Here are Del Zotto's thoughts:
I’m here and I’m preparing for Sept. 21 training camp. All I can do is prepare for the start of the season and the rest of the stuff is out of my control. I’ve been around a couple of years, I understand it’s a business. I’m preparing for the start of training camp.
Del Zotto gets a 3-year extension at $2.5 million per.
Not a penny more.
This deal is fair for a player with Del Zotto's numbers and number of years in the league. I'm more than doubling his salary. He's part of one of the best young defense corps in the game. Plus, he plays in front of Henrik Lundqvist.
Up Next: Doing more to keep the core
Keeping the core of my team together is paramount to future success on Broadway.
Both become restricted free agents after this season.
Both bring tremendous skill and speed to the table.
And I wouldn't put it past a few of my fellow GMs to don their poaching hats and try to sign McDonagh to an out-of-this-world offer sheet.
So I'm not taking any chances here.
Both of these important players will get three-year deals.
McDonagh will double his salary to $2.6 million
Stepan will also more than double his salary, bringing him to $2 million per season.
Mr. Sather also knows the importance of keeping the core together. Here's what he had to say to Pat Leonard at nydailynews.com:
Well most of these guys have grown up together. They’ve had good chemistry, they get along well, they’re a very happy group.
Alright, Glen. So I'm going to make sure they stay happy.
Up Next: Getting to the point
Right now, my team's greatest need is a point man. I've got to find someone who can carry the mail with the greatest of ease. Someone who can run my power play with peak efficiency during the regular season and in the playoffs.
He's got to have speed, size, skill and strength.
I realize that a player like this might cost me a few bucks. But players like this usually don't come at bargain prices.
So I'd place a call to a favorite trading partner of Mr. Sather to try and make it happen.
Slats has a history of trading with Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney.
I would kick the tires on Keith Yandle.
The 6'2", 200 pound Boston native has a cap hit of $5.25 million, which would bring me closer to the top of the cap. But I'd be willing to take on his salary and the talent that goes with it. If the price was right.
I'd offer Carl Hagelin and a mid-level prospect or two in return, for starters.
Up Next: Leaving room at the top
Here's the bottom line:
Spending right to the top of the salary cap is a bad idea.
If I do so, I hamstring Mr. Sather throughout the season to make moves. Especially if the right player becomes available for the right price later on—all the way up to the trade deadline. That's why I'm putting aside $ 2 million right now.
Consider it an insurance policy.
You'll thank me later, Glen.
Up Next: More about the man I replaced.
Did you know that Glen Sather actually played for the New York Rangers?
He was traded to the Blueshirts by the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Syl Apps Jr. and Sheldon Kannegeisser on Jan. 26, 1971.
He was traded by the Rangers to the St. Louis Blues with Rene Villemure in exchange for Jack Egers on Oct. 28, 1973.
Sather was known as a feisty player who'd mix it up from time to time. Case in point: the video above. While with the Rangers, Slats went at it with Bob Baun of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Apr. 15, 1971.
As a Ranger, Sather appeared in 188 regular season games, and registered 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points, along with 193 penalty minutes. His 188 games with the Blueshirts were his most with any NHL team in a career that also included stints in Boston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Montreal and Minnesota.
More details on Slats:
Before Sather returned to New York, he had already authored a remarkable Hall of Fame career over 21 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. He was the architect of the Oilers' five Stanley Cup Championships between 1984-1990. He oversaw the development of a revolutionary team concept as well as some of the finest individual talents ever to play the game, including Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. On Sept. 9, 1997, Sather was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.