NEW YORK -- It wasn't planned, but following the Rangers' 3-0 victory against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, team owner James Dolan sung the praises of his club and said New York is close to winning its first Stanley Cup since 1994.
Dolan commended team president and general manager Glen Sather for embracing the idea of building the team from within with youth and solid drafting.
"I'm very proud of the organization," Dolan told a gathering of reporters in the media room at Madison Square Garden. "I'm particularly proud of Mr. Sather because all the way back to 2004 when things weren't going so well and we had a lot of free agents here and we decided to basically re-do the strategy, Glen and I made a pact. I gave him something, which I won't reveal today, but I gave him something to seal the pact. I said, 'You can't give it back to me until we win the Stanley Cup.' And I think we're pretty close to getting that thing back."
The Rangers lead the NHL with 62 points in 44 games, but coach John Tortorella jokingly responded to his boss' comments about his team being close to a Stanley Cup despite the season barely being half over.
"I have my owner up here talking about a Stanley Cup. That's a bunch of (expletive)," Tortorella said. "We need to take it one game at a time."
Dolan, who hadn't spoken with the media that covers the Rangers since the 2005-06 season, was effusive in his praise for Sather since the work stoppage following the 2003-04 season.
"For me it's all about the system he built -- of course it's great coaching -- but it's about the farm system, the scouting system and the development -- going with kids -- and sticking with that philosophy even at times when it didn't look so good," Dolan said. "So, I'm very proud of him and the organization."
You forget how good [Nieuwendyk] was. You hear the points and stuff and you almost forget until they kind of walk you through his career, and that was really cool for me. I might have felt it a little more than some of the other guys because he was one of my favorites growing up, but that was very cool and I'm honored to have been a part of it. I had chills the entire ceremony.
— Calgary's Joe Colborne on the "Forever a Flame" ceremony for Joe Nieuwendyk