STICKIN' AROUND

Prez will stay, help re­build Blueshirts

New York Post - - SPORTS - By LARRY BROOKS

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.

larry.brooks@ny­post.com

Robert Sabo

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.

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