Glen Sather has been GM of the New York Rangers since 2000. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It’s nearly the off-season for all NHL teams, yet your mailbag questions keep pouring in. I’m thankful for that and as always, I advise you to check this online page, as well as our magazine and Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio Show to see if I’ve answered your inquiry.
Hi Adam! Love your mailbag, you have interesting views on things, views that often greatly differ from my own, but what the heck, I am just a fan.
How do you feel about Mikael Granlund for next season? I think the Wild should work like the Bruins are with Tyler Seguin, get him accustomed to NHL life on the wing and maybe in time put him to center. Obviously he doesn't have the speed to play center in the NHL unless he can always play on the opposite end of the ice. Matt Cullen worked out "fine" as the center of the second line so why not try Granlund on that line?
Miika Haapalainen, Oulu, Finland
Thanks for the kind words. As a quick aside, I find that the phrase I often hear from people who read my stuff is “I don’t always agree with you.” Trust me, I don’t expect anyone to be in lock-step with my opinions. We all look at things through different mindsets and after varying experiences. But that’s the fun part of debating in the public arena – you put forth your best argument, remain open to other points of view and make the most of debates. That’s a big reason why I got into the business.
Now, on to your question: I think it’s far too soon to start making pronouncements like he doesn’t have enough speed. Remember, we’re talking about a young man who is only 21 and not a big player to begin with; it takes a few years for most NHL prospects to develop the physical stamina and proficiency to keep up with grown men who have been doing it for years.
Yes, Granlund’s rookie season was not spectacular by any means (two goals and eight points in 27 games), but moving him to a different position is no guarantee he’ll suddenly begin to excel. In fact, one of the easier ways to mess with a young player’s confidence is to start moving him around into unfamiliar roles. A full 82-game season should give Wild GM Chuck Fletcher a much better sense of where Granlund is in his overall development.
Adam, I'm a little disappointed by the lack of influence the fans have on the NHL Awards. There are the Teen Choice Awards and the People's Choice Awards in the acting world. Why don't the 'world's greatest fans' have any say in the NHL Awards?
Derek Davis, London, Ont.
First of all, with all due respect to teens and, uh, people, the awards you mentioned are hardly the most prestigious honors in the acting community. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for them, but nobody would suggest fans deserve a role in voting for the Academy Awards.
Secondly, do you remember the Rory Fitzpatrick saga? Again, no slight to a guy who worked hard to carve out an NHL career for himself, but fans who decided to make him a starting member of the NHL all-star team made a farce of the voting system. Do you really want that type of thing to happen to the NHL awards? I don’t.
I continue to lobby hard for full transparency in NHL awards voting, but having the media and GMs cast ballots is the best process. You can argue to turn it over to the players, but that would presume players watch all the other teams as much as beat and national reporters do. And I just don’t think that’s the case. Players are so focused on their own squads, they hardly have the time, energy or inclination to watch 29 other teams.
It’s not a perfect process by any means. However, I think it’s better than a popularity contest.
Hey Adam, When is the Rangers’ organization finally going to wake up and fire GM Glen Sather? Mark Messier is more than ready to fill in for him.
Donny Fuchs, Wesley Hills, N.Y.
I’ve said this on more than one occasion, but the reality across all sports is this: when it comes to upper management – I mean, upper-upper management – you see incredible job security because GMs and team presidents are sometimes the only people who have contact with ownership.
That means they get to paint the only picture that matters – and surprise-surprise, the urge for self-preservation usually alters that picture. Which is why successful coaches (including Pat Quinn and Darryl Sutter) sometimes add the GM role to their portfolio. They know the reality, so they move to protect themselves even if they’re not crazy about the position.
As for Sather, I think my opinions on him are fairly well-known. I think he’s been dining out on his Oilers legacy for far too long with less-than-ideal results. He’s handed out some of the worst contracts in league history simply because Rangers owner James Dolan had the financial wherewithal to do so. However, he and Dolan clearly have a relationship that allows him to remain on the job. It’s a shame for Rangers fans.
Last note: I don’t agree that Messier “is ready” for a prominent management role. His resume off the ice isn’t exactly brimming with experience. In my mind, Alain Vigneault was a very good choice for Blueshirts coach – although I wouldn’t say he’s the cure-all for what ails them.
The Canadiens have a paucity of big, hard-hitting defensemen (Subban notwithstanding). They brought up Jarred Tinordi for the playoffs and he delivered plenty of hits, but it's not clear he has the maturity to play in the NHL. Looking forward to the draft, do the Habs try to rectify this problem by drafting big D-men, or do they draft players that fit well with their fast-paced play, and perhaps try to trade for hard hitters?
Albert Engel, West Hartford, Ct.
First things first: you win the word of the day contest for “paucity.” Can’t believe a dog food store hasn’t taken advantage of that word. Or at least, the phonetics of that word.
When it comes to “maturity,” see my comments above regarding Mikael Granlund. Tinordi is the same age as Granlund and needs time and patience as well. I think the Habs need to look at players with some size and speed. Not always an easy combination to find, but that’s the challenge for Montreal management and many teams.
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