Sather got his chance when the Rangers hired him in 2000, but he hasn't delivered and he hasn't been held accountable either, as his firing of coach Tom Renney today so clearly indicates. Renney has been on the hot seat for weeks, which is what happens to coaches when their teams start to implode and there is an argument to be made that his message was no longer getting through. But make no mistake about it, Renney was sacrificed by Sather because it was easier than taking the general manager taking the blame. Or fixing the mess he created.
The Rangers became a playoff team under Sather after the lockout when they found themselves in the same boat as everyone else in terms of spending money. Sather tended to spend to the max in his first four seasons and got absolutely nowhere, but working under a salary cap and with Jaromir Jagr to build around, New York suddenly turned competitive. Then Sather tore things apart last summer and handed Renney a team that doesn't have the kind of chemistry necessary to be a winner.
Judging by the Rangers play over the last month, you have to wonder if they even have enough talent. They can't score goals, their defenders can't get the puck out of their own end, and superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist often looks like he's distracted by the many commitments he has being in New York. And there's no glue.
Sather let the veteran leaders Jagr and Brendan Shanahan know he wasn't really interested in them last summer and made only a token effort to keep spark plug Sean Avery around, turning his team over to a new leadership group headed Chris Drury and Scott Gomez. Neither player lived up to the expensive free agent contracts they got last season, and both are again disappointments. So is Markus Naslund, who was supposed to replace some of the offense of Jagr, and most of all defenseman Wade Redden, who might be the league's biggest bust this season but still has five years and more than $30 million on the deal Sather gave him in July.
The moves Sather has made in the last two seasons have been abject failures, but worse, they have tied the Rangers up in contracts that no one wants to take off their hands. That makes it almost impossible for the GM to fix things before next Wednesday's trade deadline, so he fired the coach. He couldn't blame himself after all.