At one point in time, the Oilers were a dynasty (Yes, I know hard to believe), winning five Stanley Cups in a span of seven years. The man behind the operation? Glen “Slats” Sather. Once considered one of the more clever GMs of the league, Sather seems to have lost his magic GM touch just a bit.
It seems as though he seems to have more busts than triumph in the Big Apple. However, every GM is susceptible to making moves that just don’t pan out, even if fans don’t like the move to begin with– who cares they aren’t at the helm of the ship.
When Slats came to NY, he came with an impeccable reputation and so did his wizard-like trades. He was known for his great moves in Alberta by bringing in guys like “The Great One,” “The Messiah,” Paul Coffey, and Grant Fuhr – just to name a few. There have been good, maybe great, seasons for the boys in Blue, but most of them have been sour apples.
Slats never believed in letting things take their course, but rather he had the mindset of a young child: push this button and see what happens. Although he may be remembered for his poor decisions at the helm of the NY Rangers, he has said “It’s better to be a lion for one day than be a mouse for life.”
For some reason, Slats was fixated with signing big name guys that were past their prime to big contracts in the NY. He fell in love with guys that with the “been there, done that” tag and paid players for what they had done.
This Winter Lion has made many moves that make people scratch their heads, however there are some that really stick out like a sore thumb. He has also made many moves to turn the Rangers from pretenders to contenders, but now we focus on The Winter Lion’s worst mistakes – and most have been during his stint in the Big Apple.
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15 He's a Brad, Brad Man
The Rangers have been burned by lengthy deals that overpaid players before. Well, lightning seems to continually find the Rangers, or rather Sather, and strike in NY. Sather signed Brad Richards to a 9-year, $58.5 million dollar contract, after his Tampa Bay days.
Richards was nearly 31 years old when he signed that contract. Did Sather really expect him to play at an elite form until he was 40? This may have been the most recent bad NYR contract, but there have been worse.
14 "The Next One"
Eric Lindros was almost a Ranger as a rookie and eventually would be during the tail end of his career. When Sather traded for Lindros, every fan thought “This is it, we’re finally going to win the Cup again.” Boy were they wrong. Lindros was injury-prone, specifically with concussions, and he should have been put in a bubble.
In his first year in NY, he averaged a point per game on the famous “FLY” line (Fleury, Lindros, and York) but significantly regressed in the years following. Sather over paid a Band-Aid named Lindros, including giving up a draft pick in the stacked 2003 entry draft.
13 Christmas in July?
Ah, yes, the fabled one-two punch down the middle of Chris Drury and Scott Gomez. The only punches these two landed were a punch in the gut for Rangers fans and in Sather's wallet. Rangers fans thought they were getting elite centers and the only think elite was the robbery they committed.
Drury, a Calder Trophy winner, hit his peak in Buffalo and then his game slowly dropped off. It was almost the exact same story for Gomez, who also won the Calder. He had reached free agency and wanted to get the biggest contract possible. Of course Slats gave it to him, but the good news is that Sather was able to trade Gomez for Ryan McDonagh, who's become a top level defenseman and the team's captain.
12 Pascal Dupuis Trade
Pascal Dupuis’ career was recently cut short due to health complications but that doesn’t change what type of career he had and we're sure that this is one trade that Sather wants back.
Dupuis had only played six games with the Rangers, which wasn't enough time for Sather to see what he had. Dupuis was traded in 2007 for Alex Bourret who, you guessed it, didn’t play in a single NHL game. Bourret was a former first round selection that was mediocre at best.
Dupuis could later thank Sather for the trade when he won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009.
11 The Russian Rocket
It;s not that they had acquired Pavel Bure, but rather what they gave up. They gave up two average players (Novak and Ulanov) and three draft picks in order to pick up a talented player who was well passed his prime
In NY, Bure played only 51 games and accumulated 50 points. Not bad you would say, but it was over two seasons with the Blue Shirts and he retired shortly after.
All in all, was 50 points worth three draft picks that could have snatched up a player like Keith, Steen, Hudler, or Stajan.
10 Darius Kasparaitis Signing
Big names go a long way in the Big City, if you didn’t already know. In this came, they also get you big bucks if you’re named Darius Kasparaitis. He was a big, bruising defenseman that was never known for scoring, but could he ever hit. That’s exactly what the Sather paid Kasparaitis to do, even though he didn’t exactly fit the bill of a $4.25 million per year man.
During his tenure in NY, he amassed 34 points in 215 games with 260 penalty minutes. It didn’t make sense then and it certainly doesn’t make sense now.
9 9, Round and Round We Go
Scouting and patiently waiting are two things that aren't always present in Sather’s repertoire. Here we look no further than the 2004 draft – another example of poor scouting/selection.
The Rangers had two first round picks which they used to take Al Montoya and Lauri Korpikoski. Both turned out to be average players, but certainly not first round talents. Players like Zajac, Meszaros, Green, Bolland, Krejci were still left on the board.
Sather did salvage something from this draft: Callahan and Dubinsky. However, other than that, it was a disaster.
8 Bryan Trottier Hiring
This had all the makings of a disaster from the beginning. Bryan Tottier was once an All-Star for the Islanders, helping them raise four Stanley Cups, but he was also a rookie NHL coach who was coaching a team full of egos. What was Slats thinking?
Luckily he only manned the bench for 54 games (21-26-6) before Sather showed him the door. It was unheard of that he was a rookie coach and got his start in the Big Apple. Some seasoned veteran coaches can’t hack it in NY, let alone a rookie.
7 Satan Trade
This is the one non-Ranger move on the list. The Oilers Brass decided that Miroslav Satan simply wasn’t cutting it and that his 63 points in 126 games were his ceiling. He was then traded for Barrie Moore and Craig Millar, who never accomplished much in the big leagues. The best part about the trade? He led the league in shooting percentage at 21% in the year he was traded.
Satan burst through his ceiling in Buffalo, where he averaged 31 goals a year and had 40 goals in 1998-1999. That’s a Sather “whoops.”
6 The Draft to End All Drafts
Easily the worst draft pick of all time by the Rangers.
Hugh Jessiman’s NHL totals: 2 NHL games for the Florida Panthers.
The 2003 draft was stocked with NHL All-Star Talent and Sather picked this guy. The list of NHLers that were picked after him? Brown, Seabrook, Parise, Getzlaf, Burns, Kesler, Perry, Backes, and the list goes on. It's hard to fault Sather for passing on all those guys, but Dustin Brown was still on the board and was the #2 ranked North American Skater.
Imagine any one of those players on the Rangers for the past 12 years? The Rangers would be far more dangerous...
5 Farewell Number 2
This was the start of the “Win now AND get younger” movement by Glen Sather. Brian Leetch – arguably the best player to ever put on a Rangers sweater – was traded to the Leafs in exchange for Jarkki Immonen, Maxim Kondratiev, and two draft picks in order to clean house and start fresh.
Immonen and Kondratiev combined did not play a full NHL season, while one of the draft picks (Michael Sauer) played slightly over 82 games with Rangers. Not exactly the return one would expect for a sure-bet HOFer and certainly not a deserving end for a Rangers legend.
4 What a Devil
Here we have another Devil that wanted to cross the Hudson River into the “Most Famous Arena in the World.” What was Bobby Holik famous for? We're still not entirely sure. Regardless, Slats inked Holik to a 5 year, $45 million contract – Grade A money for a Grade B Player.
Sather was frantic and desperate times call for desperate measures, however this one was far too drastic. Holik burst through his ceiling five years before the Rangers signed him – producing 65 points. He averaged 20 goals a year, but they failed to make the playoffs in both years he was there.
3 A Brash From The Past
Slats inked Donald Brashear to a 2-year, $2.8 million contract. All this guy could do was pound another guy face in.
Who knows why he did this one? Slats may have thought that they needed to “toughen” up the team a bit. Maybe he thought that since he caused a fit for the Rangers that he could do it to other teams. He was even booed at a Rangers season ticket holder’s event!
He was eventually sent down to the AHL, although his cap hit was not reduced thanks to number 1 on this list, and he eventually traded him for another AHLer.
2 Alex Kovalev Trade
If you want a good laugh, then look up who Slats traded Alex Kovalev for in 2003. Or better yet I’ll tell you. His name is Jozef Balej and you may have never heard of him. That might be due to his NHL stats or lack thereof – 6 points in 18 games.
It was Sather’s first time trading away the future HOFer, but the Rangers second time. How does a franchise trade away a HOFer not once, but twice? Kovalev went on to score 264 points with the Canadians while the Rangers had a decent AHL player – at best.
1 Caught Redd(en) Handed
Only a Doc Emrick call would be appropriate for this - “What Chaos!”
Before signing with NY, he was a one time All-Star whose golden years were long gone at age 31. Slats inked him to a 6 year, $39 million contract and he went on to score just 40 points in 156 regular season games for the Blue Shirts, a mere 0.25 PPG.
They decided to send him down and he became the highest paid AHL player – EVER. Redden’s contract was just yet example of a player being paid for his past.
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