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Has Sather “cemented” his legacy? That depends…

Posted By On November 14, 2008 @ 9:38 am In Uncategorized | 47 Comments

Sure, it’s possible that Glen Sather is prepared to step aside as Rangers president and GM to make way for Brian Burke, an idea that has been given life by “ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside”:http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=burnside_scott&id=3699161 and others.

Sather is 65. He’s already reached the mountaintop a number of times as an NHL coach and GM, and in Burke, who this week relinquished his post in Anaheim, he would have a worthy, charismatic successor. Throw in the fact that the Rangers have declined my request to comment on Sather’s near- or long-term future, and it’s not something anyone can dismiss until Burke does actually land elsewhere.

Either way, where I stumble is the idea that Sather has “cemented” his legacy in the NHL, which is the rationale a source gave Burnside for Sather possibly wanting to retire. While no one can take away the record Sather compiled in winning five Stanley Cups in Edmonton and a Canada Cup for Canada, his tenure in New York is mostly an incomplete book.

The team is on better footing than it was, of course. Just as Sather was widely blamed for the disaster that was his first few seasons in Manhattan, he deserves credit for bringing the franchise back to respectability. But three early-round playoff exits don’t necessarily constitute a triumphant reign here, especially when you consider how high he set the bar in his previous stop.

Of course, maybe Sather senses that these Rangers are not prepared to get over the hump, and he’d prefer to quit while he’s at least salvaged his good name. It’s at least a theory. But I’ve always operated under the assumption that Sather still feels he has some work left to do. And given that these Rangers, flawed as may be, have proven to at least be competitive this year, I don’t think he’s prepared to jump ship just yet.

Bear in mind that when Don Maloney left for Phoenix at the end of the 2006-07 seasons, one of his was reasons was he didn’t get the sense that Sather was willing to surrender the GM chair anytime soon.

That was nearly two years ago, so Sather certainly could have changed his mind since then. But it’s doubtful — not with the Rangers as close as they are, not with the job still incomplete.

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