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Sather emphasizes competition at camp

Rangers President and GM eager to see which players will step up

Sunday, 09.19.2010 / 6:57 PM / Team
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

Pointing out that the organization will have some “interesting decisions” to make regarding its roster, Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather said on Sunday that it is far too early to know what the make-up of the team will be once training camp comes to a close in two weeks.

“If anybody tells you at this time of year that they know exactly the way their team is going to look, I think they are trying to give some sense that they know a lot more than anyone else does,” said Sather. “I think it’s impossible to tell now.”

Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather says he has no real sense yet as to what the Blueshirts opening-night roster will look like, but he is certain players on it will have earned their spots.
Although he does not know the final look of the Rangers roster, Sather does know that he wants younger players in the organization to be given every opportunity to make the team. And he also knows that a player’s salary will not be a determining factor when deciding who survives the final cut.

“I’d say talent and (where they) fit,” Sather said of the two main criteria for who will be on the Rangers this season. “I don’t think salary should have a big distinction on whether a guy makes the hockey team or not.”

With the likes of Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Evgeny Grachev, and Dale Weise, among others, vying to make the team, Sather is interested to see if the Rangers can continue to grow their young core at the NHL level this season.

If one or more of these talented prospects is able to make the jump into the National Hockey League, Sather sees an extremely positive affect for both the present and future of the organization.

“The more kids we have on the team the better off we are,” said Sather. “I want to see what our kids can do here first before we do anything. Let’s see how they look in the (preseason) games, give them the chance to perform under some pressure. There’s a big difference between Traverse City (Prospects Tournament) and then coming here.”

Of course prospects will have to earn their way on to the roster. And there are plenty of veterans in Rangers camp fighting to win jobs, as well. Both Sather and head coach John Tortorella have stressed that this training camp is all about intense competition for spots on the roster.

Not only do the Rangers have a roster full of returning players and new veteran additions like Alexander Frolov, Todd White, Derek Boogaard, and Steve Eminger competing for jobs, but Sather said he wanted as many NHL veterans as possible in camp on a tryout basis, too. The thinking behind that, again, was to create as much competition as possible.

Three NHL veterans -- defensemen Alexei Semenov and Garnet Exelby and forward Ruslan Fedotenko -- are currently in camp on tryouts.

“I would have brought more in if more would have accepted,” said Sather. “I just like the attitude that the guy comes here coming off an off-season, has something to prove, and creates good competition for everyone. I like the idea of giving an opportunity.”

With 31 years of experience as a general manager in the NHL, Sather is fully aware that there is no perfect way to choose a roster and not every personnel decision works out as planned. However, it is a challenge that Sather to this day still relishes.

“I think you second-guess yourself on everything because you’re never going to be 100 percent right in everything you do,” said Sather. “It’s a constant pressure-cooker no matter where you are in the National Hockey League. You are expected to win, be successful, develop players. If you are not willing to accept it, you are in the wrong business.”

Without naming names, Sather knows what he’d ideally like to see, though, from this Rangers’ roster this season.

“I’d like to see 23 guys who are aggressive and come to play every night, who are all hungry to win, determined, respectful, and win every game,” Sather said.