Prez will stay, help rebuild Blueshirts
Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather stood side by side at the press conference on Thursday, just as their signatures were side by side below the letter distributed the same day to season-ticket holders in which management stated its intent to focus on the future even if at the expense of a 2018 playoff berth.
And, The Post has learned, the two executives will remain side by side at the top of the Rangers’ hockey department through 2018-19, with Sather having agreed to extend his tenure on Broadway that began in June 2000 to a 19th year. The Last Lion of Winter will thus continue to counsel Gorton, who succeeded Sather as general manager on July 1, 2015.
The reconstruction of a team that
has qualified for the playoffs seven straight years and 11 of the 12 seasons of the hard-cap era began in earnest last summer, when the Blueshirts bought out the final three seasons of Dan Girardi’s contract and dealt Derek Stepan to the Coyotes for the seventh-overall pick in the draft and young defenseman Tony DeAngelo.
The Rangers are currently in the process of gauging offers for pending unrestricted free agents Rick Nash and Michael Grabner (who have drawn widespread interest), as well as pending free-agent defenseman Nick Holden and center David Desharnais.
Ryan McDonagh, whose contract runs through next season, has prompted keen interest from Stanley Cup contenders Tampa Bay and Boston, currently sepa- rated by three points at the top of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
The Post has learned that neither team has yet stepped up with an offer the Blueshirts could legitimately consider in return for their captain, whose potential addition could ultimately tip the balance between the Lightning and Bruins. We’re told that management feels no urgency to deal McDonagh by the Feb. 26 deadline and could revisit the possibility of a deal at the June draft, when the pool of suitors would naturally increase.
Mats Zuccarello, whose contract also expires following next season, has drawn interest as well following the Blueshirts’ unusually public declaration of intent to rebuild.
Though in his third season as Rangers general manager, Gorton has past experience — and success — in overseeing an organizational revamp. As interim GM of the Bruins from late March through mid-July of 2006 between the regimes of Mike O’Connell and Peter Chiarelli, Gorton led the draft team that selected Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, engineered the lopsided trade in which Boston acquired Tuukka Rask from Toronto in exchange for Andrew Raycroft and presided over the free-agent signings of Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara.
Sather, who will turn 75 in September, joined the Blueshirts after winning five Cups during a 21-year NHL tenure as general manager of the Oilers.
BACK FOR MORE: Rangers president Glen Sather (right) and general manager Jeff Gorton will continue to work together next year, as Sather has agreed to remain with the Blueshirts through 2018-19.