Sather doing the right things on Broadway
There were bad trades, mistakable free-agent signings, large contracts were thrown about and more importantly, the team did not do a lot of winning. In fact, the team missed the postseason in each of Sather's first four seasons with the Blueshirts.
Fast forward to now and it is easy to see that Sather has changed his ways. The Blueshirts are a playoff contender and one that has the potential to do make a run because of the moves that Sather has made.
For starters, he brought in Alain Vigneault to be the team's new head coach this past off-season. It was clear that previous head coach John Tortorella's message was not getting through and that the team needed someone new to lead them.
While the team got off to a rough start, the club has since straightened themselves out and currently find themselves in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference and in second place in the Metropolitan Division. One of the main reasons why the team finds themselves having success is because they are more aggressive on offense (third in the league in taking an average of 32.7 shots per game) while still being responsible on the defensive side of the puck (tenth in the league with a 2.42 goals against average per game), both of which are systems that Vigneault preaches on a daily basis.
Secondly, Sather has made some smart signings. Sather was smart to lock up the team's best player, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, to a long-term extension.
In signing Lundqvist to a long-term deal, it ensures that the Blueshirts will at least be competitive for the next little while. Many hockey pundits and fans alike consider Lundqvist to be the best goaltender in the game today and when a team has someone like that between the pipes, their chances of winning hockey games and contending in the postseason go up by a wide margin.
Sather made another smart signing today by doing the right thing and locking up one of their best defenseman, Dan Girardi, with a six-year contract extension. Since joining the Rangers during the 2006-07 season, Girardi has been one of the club's most consistent players and one that the Rangers are not afraid to turn to for big minutes.
Lastly, Sather is being a lot more careful when it comes to throwing money, contracts and years around. The perfect example of this has been the ongoing situation with team captain, Ryan Callahan.
There is no doubt that Callahan is looking to get paid like he is one of the best players on the team and while that might be true, the number of years he is looking for does not make sense. Over the past few seasons, Callahan has had several injuries and this season, has seen his production slip.
While there is no doubt that Callahan brings everything you want in a hockey player to the team, Sather is being smart by realizing that he is almost 30 years old, that his style of play makes hum vulnerable to injuries while also realizing that this is not a Stanley Cup Champion. Sather is trying to be smart and make Callahan realize that he might not get a better deal anywhere else.
It may have taken awhile but Sather is certainly doing a better job of running this hockey club. The question that remains, however, is how much longer is he going to be able to do so for?