OTTAWA - Shortly after James Dolan handed the reins of the Knicks to Phil Jackson, the Garden's executive chairman endorsed the strategy of Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather in trading Ryan Callahan, voiced support for coach Alain Vigneault and anticipated that the Blueshirts would make the playoffs.
"Ryan essentially was asking too much for his services and was going to hamstring the team with that," Dolan told ESPN Radio. "I think Glen did the right thing."
Callahan, sent to Tampa with two draft picks for Martin St. Louis at the trade deadline, insisted that he wanted to remain in New York, but declined a six-year, $36-million contract extension.
The Rangers haven't reached the Finals during Sather's 14-year tenure, but Dolan said: "I have great faith in Glen Sather and think he has made some fantastic moves. He has pulled off some trades that I still don't know how he has gotten the other team to agree."
Dolan admitted he "had a special relationship with John Tortorella. I loved him. He used to throw me out of his office. He is a great guy and he is tough."
He said on WFAN: "Torts and I were very close and really enjoyed each other's company and still talk today. I was extremely sad to see him go, but it was Glen's decision and I didn't challenge him in any way."
He noted that "Alain has proved himself to be a very competent coach. In the beginning, I was a little concerned, but we knew it would take some time to adjust to his style of play; they have and I think they are playing well . . . I anticipate we will make the playoffs, but it's tight. I have a lot of confidence in the team; the other night [a 1-0 loss to the Sharks], they played magnificently; that goalie stood on his head . . . If they play like that, they will win the lion's share of games, make the playoffs and go deep."
The Dolan family owns controlling interests in the Rangers, Madison Square Garden and Cablevision. Cablevision owns Newsday.