Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gorton, Not Messier Should Be Rangers Next GM

With the tremendous work the New York Rangers front office has done this summer the calls for Sather to go now have quelled, but that does not mean the need to figure out the potential successor is has diminished.  For the past few years that has been an implied assumption amongst followers of the Rangers that Mark Messier was the man being groomed to replace GM Glen Sather.  To his credit Messier has been putting in the work to learn the management side of the game whether it be as GM for Team Canada at the 2010 IIHF World Hockey Championship or in his current role as special adviser to Glen Sather the past few years.  Mark Messier could have convinced some team, New York or otherwise, to hire him as their general manager just on his name and reputation, but he has decided not to go that route and earn the job, which speaks to his desire to not only be a GM, but be a very good one.  However, that should not happen in New York.

The resistance to Messier being the next GM of the Rangers is not about the fact that he has never been one at this level before or that he has learned at the side of Glen Sather and could have picked up bad traits from him.  The resistance is not about Messier at all.  The simple fact is, at least right now, the Rangers have a better candidate in the organization with Assistant GM Jeff Gorton.

Jess Rubenstein of The Prospect Park laid out the case for Gorton as the successor to Sather because he has the combination of front office experience and age to bring the Rangers forward for a long time to come.  Gorton already possesses 19 years of front office experience at all levels including seven years as an AGM with Boston before having a very successful reign as Interim GM in 2006.

Gorton has been a member of the Rangers organization for the past four seasons, spending three as assistant director of player personnel working hand-in-hand with Gordie Clark to help the Rangers rebuild the prospect ranks to allow the Rangers to be where they are today.

Three weeks ago Gorton was shifted around in the front office moving to Assistant GM where he would be involved with all player transactions and negotiations.  If you needed evidence he was up for that job, then look no further than him being the point man on last week’s contract for Brandon Dubinsky which seemed destined for an arbitration hearing before an all-night negotiating session between Gorton and Dubinsky’s representatives changed the calculations.  Gorton followed the Dubinsky deal by inking the Rangers other key restricted free agent, Ryan Callahan, to a three-year deal of his own for less than many thought it would cost to keep him.  This is the kind of tangible experience that you want your GM to have and besides the experience itself it creates a sense of trust within the players in the organization seeing how Gorton has handled those that have had contract negotiations before them.

Mark Messier has the legacy and history with the New York Rangers and the fans, so he would certainly be the more popular public choice, but Gorton’s first-hand experience and track record when given the responsibility makes him the better choice to be next after Glen Sather is done as Rangers’ GM.