As off-season’s go, Glen Sather really hasn’t had a good one since the lockout.
You might remember that one when the Ranger’s GM scrambled to fill his team with Czechs, just to keep Jaromir Jagr, his one superstar, happy. That worked with the Rangers making the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
But since then…Uggh.
The next off-season, Sather signed Matt Cullen, Aaron Ward, and Brendan Shanahan. Sure, Shanny worked out ,but he solicited the Rangers, not the other way around. While Cullen was gone the next season and Ward turned out to be a disaster, coming into camp out of shape and getting into arguments with Jagr.
Then came the signings of Scott Gomez and Chris Drury the following year. If you listen to Sather you can hear him admitting his mistake.
“If you perform up to expectations, play hard every day, game in and game out and be productive, there’s a chance you’ll never be traded,” Sather said.
Gomez was shipped to Montreal on Tuesday.
And then we had last off-season with the bad signings of Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival and Markus Naslund. We all saw how that turned out.
So now with the Rangers signing Marian Gaborik to a five year contract worth $7.5 million a year, you can see where the trepidation comes from. It looks good on paper, but with Sather’s track record in the free agent market it’s hard to get excited.
If healthy, Gaborik gives the Rangers the sniper they needed since Jagr. He’s scored over 30 goals in five of his eight seasons in Minnesota, including 42 goals in 2007-08. But last year was an injury riddled season with hip surgery in January limited him to 17 games last year.
“His health is fine,” Sather kept repeating last night in a conference call. “He came back and played the last (11) games last season, and it hasn’t bothered him since.”
Sorry if I don’t share Sather’s optimism, but with his spotty track record, the Rangers general manager will have to show me proof before I start believing. Each off-season you think the team has enough to make it to the next level, but the season always ends in disappointment.
For this off-season to be a success, Gaborik and Chris Higgins – acquired for Gomez on Tuesday – need to play healthy seasons, while Donald Brashear, who was signed earlier yesterday, needs to play a more controlled game, meaning no suspensions and no stupid penalties.
Otherwise this off-season will be just another typical Ranger July. It looks great on paper, but that all changes when the games are played.