As one era ends, another begins. Glen Sather, who has spent the last 15 years as president and general manager of the Rangers, has relinquished the reins on Broadway.
Sather, who will turn 72 in September, will remain team president but turned over the day-to-day operations to Jeff Gorton, an assistant general manager who becomes the franchise's 11th GM. Jim Schoenfeld, who was named senior vice president, will continue as Rangers assistant general manager and GM of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the team's AHL affiliate.
"I've been thinking about it for the last two or three years,'' Sather said Wednesday. "Last year we had the run to the Stanley Cup, this year we thought we'd get another shot at it. I think everybody would like to retire as a champion; it didn't happen. I felt at the end of the season, with the people we have here, it was a good time for me to do it.
"I've been doing this a long time . . . The clock ticks for everyone. You look at the [general] managers in the NHL, they're all getting younger, not getting older.''
Sather began his NHL career as a player with the Bruins in 1966 and played for the Rangers from 1970-73. He coached the Oilers to four Stanley Cups, in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988.
Gorton, 46, a former assistant GM of the Bruins, has been Sather's right-hand man in hockey operations for four years and has long been considered his successor.
"Not a lot is changing, except I'll have the final decision on players,'' Gorton said. "We're going to work together. I don't plan on being a one-man team. I will bounce things off Glen. He calls me five times a day as it is now.''
During this year's playoffs, the Bruins and Maple Leafs asked the Rangers for permission to speak with Gorton and were denied, a signal that changes were coming. Gorton, who already handles salary-cap issues and contracts for the Rangers, was Bruins interim GM for more than three months in 2006. In Boston, Gorton traded for goaltender Tuukka Rask, drafted Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand and acquired free agent Zdeno Chara.
Gorton's philosophy seems similar to Sather's. "We want a skilled team, a highly competitive team . . . I'd like to think we'll draft well, and when the time's right, we'll continue to go for it.''
Sather's tenure has been widely debated since he had surgery for prostate cancer in March 2013, but he said health is not an issue. He will continue to work from his New York office.
"You're gonna be stuck with me,'' he told reporters on a conference call. "I don't plan on going anywhere.''
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