You ask, we answer. The Post is fielding questions from readers about New York’s biggest pro sports teams and getting our beat writers to answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Rangers.
Why did the Rangers walk away from Anton Stralman after the 2014 Stanley Cup (finals) run? I firmly believe Stralman being in Tampa and (Mats) Zuccarello being injured were the difference in Tampa beating the Rangers in 7 to advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals. — Jason Abraham
Glen Sather, then the GM, had lusted after Dan Boyle for years and had tried to get him numerous times from Tampa Bay before he was dealt to San Jose after 2007-08. He became a free agent following 2013-14. Stralman, who had emerged as a top-four staple the previous three seasons, also hit free agency at the same time. But Sather zoned in on Boyle while essentially eschewing negotiations with Stralman.
Hence, Boyle, who rejected a higher offer from the Islanders, signed a two-year deal worth $4.5 million per while Stralman signed a four-year deal with the Lightning for the same $4.5 million per.
Boyle, who liked to carry the puck, was a poor fit for Alain Vigneault’s system in which defensemen were instructed to make the quick first pass. He complained about it through his two seasons in New York in which he produced mixed results on the third pair while Stralman ascended in Tampa Bay.
Exchanging Stralman for Boyle stands as the worst personnel decision of Sather’s tenure as Rangers GM.
I’ve been very impressed with the work Jeff Gorton has done since he’s moved to the GM’s office. How much of a role did he play in some of the Rangers’ drafts prior to his ascension? And what did you think of his work as interim GM of the Bruins? — Kyle Lebeda
I think the assistant GM generally has a secondary role in the draft process. But Gorton’s work as Boston’s interim GM from March 25 to July 15, 2006 is legendary. During those 113 days, the B’s acquired Tuukka Rask from the Maple Leafs straight up for Andrew Raycroft; traded up to select Brad Marchand in the entry draft in which the team also added Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic; and signed Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard as free agents.
Who is on your NHL Mount Rushmore? And who is on your Mount Rushmore for goalies? — Muhammad Cohen
Constructing the NHL Mount Rushmore is a simple exercise for me. Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky would be immortalized in granite.
The goaltenders section is a more challenging matter. Jacques Plante, who revolutionized the position with his “roaming” and then of course changed the course of history by becoming the first NHL netminder with the courage to wear a mask after one side of his face had been split open by an Andy Bathgate shot at the Garden on Nov. 1, 1959, is a lock. So is Martin Brodeur, who holds the all-time record for victories and shutouts.
But then … the choice is among Terry Sawchuk, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek and Ken Dryden. My selections are Roy and Hasek, though it pains me to omit Sawchuk.
Wouldn’t players be far less inclined to deliver dirty hits (ones that result in a game misconduct) if the opposing team was allowed to pick another player from that team to be out of that game as well? (For instance), how many fewer cheap shots would Matt Cooke have thrown if it meant (Sidney) Crosby was also finished for the night? — Mickey Doft
Interesting concept, Mickey, but in what universe would you be willing to grant referees the kind of authority that might result in Connor McDavid (or Artemi Panarin, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby) given a first-period game misconduct?
The pressure to call — or not — majors for headshots would be even more immense than it is now. Leaving matters of that magnitude to a referee’s discretion is the reason why I oppose having all minors served in their entirety. That would be too much power accruing to a group that hasn’t gotten it correct often enough to merit it.