Glen Sather has spent the past 34 years of his life serving as a general manager in the National Hockey League, the last 15 of those with the New York Rangers, but the long-time NHL executive admitted Wednesday that it was time for a change in the Blueshirts' GM chair. So Sather's highly-regarded assistant Jeff Gorton was officially named the successor, becoming only the 11th general manager in franchise history.
"I just felt that it was time to move a little bit, I mean the clock ticks for everyone," explained Sather, who entered the NHL as a player in 1966-67 before embarking on a Hall of Fame career as a coach and executive upon the end of his playing career following the 1976-77 season.
"You look at the managers in the NHL they're all getting younger, they're not getting older. So I think the relationships managers have to have with one another makes it a lot easier for Jeff to be involved than to have me involved."
The fact that Gorton has played a major role in helping build the Rangers into an elite contender over his eight years with the organization--the last four as assistant general manager--made this an easier decision for Sather, one that he said he's considered for the past two or three years.
"The things we've been doing around here, we've operated as a team, and (Jeff) fits in very well with everyone, he's involved with everything, knows what's going on, knows the personnel very well," offered Sather. "A lot of times someone new comes in and they change (front office) personnel and we didn't want to see that happen here."
The new GM agrees that stability in the front office is very important for a team that has won eight playoff rounds, a Presidents Trophy, two division titles, and an Eastern Conference championship while making one trip to the Stanley Cup Final and two others to the Eastern Conference Final over the past four seasons.
It is why Gorton is so happy that Sather will remain as President of the Rangers and that Jim Schoenfeld has been promoted to Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Rangers, while remaining as General Manager of the Hartford Wolf Pack, New York's affiliate in the AHL.
"We're going to work together, I don't plan to work as a one-man team," Gorton explained to reporters Wednesday afternoon. "I think we've had success as a team because of the people here. I'm going to use Glen as much as I can. He's going to be a part of it. To have somebody like Glen in our corner, and to be able to bounce things off of, and talk to what we are thinking, that's obviously a benefit to me and everybody else here."
The team's philosophy on style of play and what type of players fit that style isn't going to change just because there has been a change in general managers, according to Gorton. Nor have the organization's lofty expectations been lowered one bit, either.
"We want a skilled team, a highly-competitive team," stated Gorton, who spent 15 years working for the Boston Bruins prior to arriving in New York, seven of those serving as the assistant general manager. "If we were in a situation where we had a chance to go for it, yeah we're going to continue to do that. We want to win here."
Gorton helped build the Bruins into a Stanley Cup champion, and has aided greatly in New York's recent run of success. Now for the first time in his career Gorton will have the final say on decisions which will hopefully bring another Stanley Cup to Madison Square Garden, something that Sather--owner of five NHL championship rings--would have loved to close out his career as Rangers GM with.
"Last year we had a run at the Stanley Cup and this year we thought we'd have another run at it," explained Sather. "I think everyone would like to retire as a champion, but it didn't happen. We gave it a good shot, but there were a lot of things in our way. So I felt at the end of the season, with the people we have here, it was a good time to do it (step aside as general manager)."