Not to focus on Eric Lindros and the impact this has on the team, the NHL and hockey in general one can sum it up by saying “Sather is taking a huge risk with a possible huge payoff or a fan anticipated loss on investment”. Lindros brings size, some passion and fear, something the Rangers have not had for some time up the middle. The loss of Hlavac, Johnsson and Brendl may or may not hurt the “cause”. Meaning Hlavac probably the most big hearted and talented of the three is coming off knee surgery, the garden variety but surgery anyway. Johnsson a fleet-footed defender can be replaced by Mike Mottau and candidate Filip Novak. Brendl, of the three, the one with the most upside has upset Rangers management since first showing up at camp out of shape which equals in the minds of New York brass “lack of heart”. While it may be years before Brendl makes a splash the movement of these three players atleast opens up some competition for a defense spot, a wing spot (possibly to be occupied by Brett Hull) and perhaps another wing spot (where Brendl may have fit).
Sather told Mike York, learn to play wing or 4th line checking center or you are out of here, regardless of how much heart you have. Manny Malhotra, remember left wing, learn it or leave us. There is not much room at the inn for these guys.
It took moxie for Sather to have to have made it happen. Barring injury with Lindros, Nedved and Messier as one-two-three the Rangers have a strong center unit for the first time in many years. Several of Sather`s offseason signings such as Heisten, Ulmer etc. will all have a shot at making the club on wing as each has the ability. Mike Mottau, a seemingly rotting in Hartford defender honed his skills and now like Filip Novak has a real shot at playing regular shifts at the garden. If anyone of these guys can play defense and this includes Matt Kinch and even Martin Richter and Petr Smrek it is not out of the question that Ulanov, Karpa and or Van Impe can be looking for ice elsewhere come October.
The entire dynamic of the team changed with one press conference and can again with another and now the rumored possible moves of Demitra (St.Louis) and the pending release in November of Sylvain Lefebrve. Sather`s message is clear: show up in shape, play your butt off and earn a chance. Too bad he did not do this earlier with Kamensky, and Alex Daigle.
The work is not yet done and look for Sather to restock the prospects accordingly, perhaps at the cost of an existing player or two… Lundmark will likely see time at wing or more likely Hartford but now…there is competition and the Rangers if all works out..have a shot a respectability something that has lacked over the past four seasons.
What Sather has done…has been to purchase a lottery ticket… with a great upside and a great downside but he was willing to solidify the future in the offseason in order to make such a move. There is only one Eric Lindros and if healthy can help the Rangers a hell of a lot more than an overweight light hearted prospect named Brendl.