Rather than rebuild the Rangers from the mess that Smith left from the beginning, Sather became awestruck by the amount of money he had at his disposal. Nearly two decades of pent up, frugalness in Edmonton was unleashed at the expense of the New York Rangers.
Now, a decade into his reign, it is clear that Sather has to go. Not only does he have to go, but the Rangers need to be destructed, much like was done in 2004, only this time, Sather must be the first casualty.
The Rangers need to use the model of a few teams around the league that were in similar situations...
All three of these franchises are more than likely in most people's Top Five teams in the NHL today.
What do all three have in common other than being dominant, offensive machines? They were all terrible just a few short years ago.
Each franchise was in the lower-to-very bottom of the standings earlier in the decade up until the lockout. Rather than infest their lineups with aging veterans to plug obvious holes, they rebuilt from within.
Now, obviously having Sidney Crosby, Evegni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nic Backstrom, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and other game changers helps dearly, but they allowed their kids to play and learn on the job.
Don't get me wrong, this year, like much of Sather's tenure in Manhattan, has been an absolute disaster. However, the Rangers future can be bright...if handled correctly.
According to Hockey's Future, the Rangers actually have the No. 3 ranked prospect system in the NHL.
What they do with that will determine where this team will be for the next several years.
Now, they can take the philosophy that they've had for what seems as long as I can remember, and let their youth toil in the system while clogging the depth charts with out-of-town veterans. Or, they can follow in the footsteps of the Blackhawks, Penguins, and Capitals and let them show us what they've got.
I am a firm believer of learning on the job. Players that strive to be a part of the NHL have been fighting and preparing for that opportunity their whole lives.
If a young player that belongs to an NHL team that's playing in the AHL, Juniors, College, or any other place that isn't the NHL tells you that he's happy to be learning and preparing for the NHL rather than actually playing on the squad, they're full of it.
Of course, certain players like goaltenders will benefit from that extra time spent in the system gaining experience. But as far as young forwards and defensemen are concerned, I want them up. Right now.
Unlike the Penguins, Blackhawks, and Caps, the Rangers have an advantage going into rebuilding that those teams didn't have. The Rangers have two proven game-changers on their roster that are just entering their prime.
Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist, both 27-years-old, are two bona fide game-changing talents that any team would die to have.
To waste their prime years on a rebuilding would be insane, which is why the Rangers dropped the ball this season. They should have began the rebuilding this year. Now they are a year behind and another year was wasted for these two players.
Much like Sather did in the 2003-04 season, the Rangers desperately need to destruct their entire team.
Of course, starting with Glen Sather would be ideal, but the odds of his firing or stepping down before the trade deadline are about as good as Jaromir Jagr and Aaron Ward sharing an intimate dinner.
In return, the Rangers should not be getting anything other than prospects, very young talent, and draft picks. The only exception would be if Sather would be able to move a long contract for an expiring one.
In my eyes, there are only a handful of players that should be safe at the deadline this year and they are...
Like I said, these two players are your bread and butter. Without either of them, the Rangers would be lucky to not be in last place of the Eastern Conference.
They are certifiable game-changers and any team in the NHL would be drooling to have them. Lundqvist has the ability to steal any game, on any night.
And Gaborik, well, Gaborik has the ability to do this...
With the exception of the late Alexei Cherepanov in 2007, the Rangers drafted three blueliners in the first round.
Their commitment to building a young, puck-moving blueline has been one thing that I will praise them for. The Rangers haven't had a puck-moving blueline corps since Leetch and Zubov last played together.
As much as everyone likes to think differenlty, Marc Staal is going to be a shutdown defensemen in this league.
I have no problem with that whatsoever. He has proved that he has the ability, when not focused on jumping into the play, that he can shutdown the opponents top players. It's when he tries to do too much offensively and pinch, that he gets himself into trouble.
Staal has also shown light this season of him playing much more physical both in front of the net and in the corners. The Rangers need that.
Del Zotto on the other hand, is going to be a bona fide offensive defensemen. Remember, this kid is only 19-years-old. Most defensemen don't begin to enter their prime until they are around 24-25. The strides that he has shown this season are undeniable. Don't get me wrong, he is still green in some areas, but his progress is amazing. He's one of the few bright spots in this horrible season.
Unless a player along the lines of an Ovechkin, Crosby, or Kane are offered up, in no way do the Rangers dare trade one of these two players.
Say what you want about Sean Avery, but the guy is needed for this team in the future. He, along with Callahan, are generally two of the only players that you will notice every single night. Even Gaborik goes some games where he's completely unnoticed, but there is rarely a shift where Callahan and Avery aren't hitting someone or getting an offensive opportunity. The pucks just aren't going in.
In my opinion, a line of Avery, Dubinsky, and Callahan would be extremely effective.
All three play a very similar fast-paced, edgy, bang-bang crash the net style of offense. None of them are a defensive liability so there's no need to worry about that either.
Of course they wouldn't be a top line, or even a second line, but they would be a very good, effective third line. Your typical checking line that would pitch in garbage goals and change the pace of the game.
Why, with the 353,985,089 line combination that Torts has put together he hasn't put this trio together is beyond me. You would think it would be a no-brainer right?
As for Anisimov and Lisin, both have shown me signs of very, very good play. Anisimov has great size and unbelievable hands. While Lisin has incredible speed and looks to be a serious dangler at times. The NHL these days is all about speed, and all 5 of these players have it, with Lisin by the far the fastest.
Other than those aforementioned players, I wouldn't mind if anyone on the Rangers got traded.
Hopefully Sather realizes that this team is going nowhere, like the rest of us have, and makes an abundance of trades at the deadline.
Vinny Prospal can easily be dealt. He's having a decent year, making just about nothing, and is an UFA at the end of the year. A GM's dream.
Chris Higgins might be harder to move, but I'm sure he'll find a new home. Like Prospal, Higgins is an UFA at season's end. Higgins might not be producing with the Rangers, but a change of scenery might do him wonders. I'd be shocked if he's not dealt at the deadline.
Ales Kotalik will probably be very difficult to move, but I still see him shipping out. Kotalik has two more years left on his contract at $3 million per, and is having a terrible run in New York. However, I did read that the Florida Panthers might be interested in bringing him in. Hopefully some team is desperate enough to take a gamble on him once their plan A's and B's fall through.
Erik Christensen is a RFA at year's end, so even if he's not traded, I don't see him being back with the team next season.
Dan Girardi, like Christensen, is a RFA. With the amount of depth the Rangers have on D, I don't see Girardi playing another season in New York. I'm sure a playoff contending team will be looking to add some depth on defense and a player that has an expiring contract makes it much more enticing. Expect Girardi to be traded.
Donald Brashear should be waived, simple as that. There is no market for him whatsoever, and if it weren't for Sather, there would have been no market for him last season.
Don't expect Wade Redden to go anywhere. Same goes for Drury. We're stuck with them. Period.
Michal Rozsival on the other hand, has a better opportunity of being shipped out. As bad as he is, teams are always seeking an "offensive defensemen." I use that term very lightly. Rozsival, although a huge cap hit at $5 million per season, only has two more years remaining on his deal after this season.
That might be an easier pill for some teams to swallow, especially teams that have cap space and are on the verge of the playoffs.
The Thrashers and Stars have ample amount of cap space and are both fighting for the playoffs. A trade involving Marty Turco and Rozsival would not shock me at all. Alex Auld has played just as well as Turco this season, and Turco is going to be a UFA after this season.
Not to mention that burden it would take off of Lundqvist's shoulders after the Olympics.
Like I said in an earlier slide, I whole-heartily believe in hands-on experience. I don't care how much preparation and working up the ranks the kids have, it doesn't compare to in-game experience.
Until these players are getting playing time at the NHL level, logging NHL minutes, we're never going to truly be able to evaluate what they can bring to the table.
That's why it is so important for Sather to make as much room possible leading up to this year's trade deadline.
I want to see players like Evgeny Grachev, Bobby Sanguinetti, Ilkka Heikkinen, Michael Sauer, Brodie Dupont, and Corey Locke playing real minutes in real games. Not the couple minutes here and there garbage that the few of them played earlier in the season.
Over the last month of the season or so, if these players can play quality minutes, we can finally see what they might be able to bring to the the table in the future.
Also, during training camp next season, top-ranked NCAA prospects should be given a fair shot. Guys like Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Ryan McDonagh should all get a legitimate chance to make the roster. If not, they should be sent to the AHL where they can get a little experience at the professional level and then hopefully be playing with the Rangers by year's end.
The talent is there for the Rangers. It's just a matter of what they do with it.