Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather
took a few minutes to discuss his initial thoughts on the 2002-03 season.Q:
Is it too early to begin analyzing what went wrong this year?Glen Sather:
The easiest answer is to look at some of the injuries that hurt us early in the year and some that have hung on all year. That's an easy answer and an easy cop out, but the reality is, you lose the kind of player that we lost for most of the season and it's pretty tough to recover. But on the other hand, I thought we'd have enough time from Christmas on to recover and make it back and get into the playoffs. We were close. At the end of the season, the last few games, the team really played hard and competed hard. We've had some guys playing recently who probably shouldn't have played. Not because they weren't trying, but because they were hurt. It's the old story - you have to learn to deal with injuries. You have to work around them and find a way to win. But, the reality is, we shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. I thought we had enough talent to be able to recover and get into the playoffs.
We had some players on our team that we expected a lot more out of and didn't get it. You can't have that. It's tough to be successful in pro sports when you get players of great magnitude and for one reason or another, they don't perform. But that's the risk you take. That's the risk that every team takes.
When you think back to a year ago, Petr Nedved had a particularly tough year and didn't play very well. But he worked hard in the summer and had a great year. He was the most consistent forward that we had all season. I thought he played very well. Some of these other guys who had an off-year are going to have to do the same thing.
Over the next few months, we'll go through the planning process and have meetings and decide what we want to do and how we're going to get there. Hopefully we'll make the right judgements and get the maximum out of these guys and not get into this type of problem again where you're left wondering why this guy or that guy did not play up to his potential.
Do you have a core of players that you can build around next year?Glen Sather:
I think we have a much better team than we had at this time last year. If you look back a year ago, Mike Richter had a skull fracture and he recovered. To lose him at the on-set of this season was tough. We went out and got Mike Dunham, who is an excellent goaltender. He really kept us in a lot of games. There was a lot of pressure on him and he responded to that and played really well. He had an excellent year. That's where the strength of your team starts. Right at the goal. The other player is Dan Blackburn. He's a young guy and we know he's going to be a great goaltender. We've got a pretty good nucleus in this organization and we've got some players who are going to compete. I think we're going to be much better.
Is there one thing in mind that you feel you need to improve right away?Glen Sather:
I think to pinpoint one position where you need to strengthen yourself is a mistake. We need to strengthen ourselves in a few positions. You can never have enough defensemen. We thought we had enough, but guys in Hartford went down the other night too. Maybe we need 20 defensemen to get through the season the way things are going. We've got to make sure we cover our backs next year. Defense is a place that we know we need to get stronger. We really improved in our goals against from Christmas on, but we have to start that right at Training Camp and keep it there - keep plugging away and get some momentum and build confidence and a belief in each other.
Nobody said it was going to be easy. It's a difficult road. I thought this year, we were going to make it and it's disappointing.
Friday, April 4, 2003 - Sather Discusses End to Rangers' Post-Season Run