The Master of the Mulligan Strikes Again

The Master of the Mulligan strikes again.  Somehow, some way, Glen Sather convinced Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter to take Ales
Kotalik’s contract and the snake bitten Chris Higgins off his hands, a shocking
feat in itself.  That he got a capable center
and the league’s second leading fighter in return, and that both will be free
agents after the season, is nothing short of remarkable.

Sure
it’s a shame that Sather got himself in all these pickles in the first
place:  the foolish Kotalik deal; Higgins
hasn’t worked out; and last summer signing over-the-hill heavyweight Donald
Brashear to a locked-in deal.  Sather’s
failures in free agency are well documented. 
But the fact that he’s gotten himself out of two potentially franchise
crippling deals in the last seven months is incredible.

On
June 30, 2009, Sather finagled his first do-over for the abominable Scott Gomez
contract.  He dumped the overpaid center
on the Montreal Canadiens and netted a good prospect and potential second line
winger in Higgins. 

Then
early Tuesday morning Sather got another retry, this time from Calgary. 
That he managed to rid the Rangers of Kotalik and the two years, $6
million remaining on his contract at all is a major surprise.  To accomplish that, it was reasonable to expect
that Sather might have had to sweeten the deal with a prospect like Bobby Sanguinetti
just to get a team to bite. 

But Sather
long ago proved his mastery of the trade market.  Along with Higgins, Kotalik was sent to the
Flames for a top six forward, Olli Jokinen, and a much-needed pugilist, Brandon
Prust.  Unbelievable.  The only possible explanation for Sather’s
consistent robberies through the trade market is that he has some serious
blackmail on his fellow general managers. 

The
deal helps the Rangers now, and in the future. 
Jokinen is a top six forward who will inject life into the Rangers inept
offense and possibly propel them into the playoffs.  But if he turns out to be the lazy head-case
many expect, Rangers fans can take solace that he’ll be jettisoned in July and
the Rangers will have some much-needed cap relief.  Prust adds a willing combatant to the Rangers
lineup and with the demise of the once-feared Brashear and the questionable
fighting abilities of Aaron Voros; he’ll be the enforcer who makes opponents
think twice before looking in Marian Gaborik’s direction. 

Granted, Sather should have never given Gomez, or Kotalik, or
dozens of other players the deals they got in the first place.  There’s no excuse for Sather’s indiscretion
with Jim Dolan’s checkbook.  But let’s
face it, Sather isn’t going anywhere.  It’s
a tough pill to swallow, but it’s reality. 
Dwelling on Sather’s past failures is only a recipe for depression.  But the Gomez and Kotalik trades were nothing
short of brilliant.  

Recall that the combined salaries of Gomez, Chris Drury,
Wade Redden, Michal Roszival and Henrik Lundqvist were poised to control the Rangers
salary cap for the next five years.  But
Sather discarded Gomez and created much-needed cap space for the franchise.  Of course less than 24 hours later he
replaced Gomez’s mammoth deal with Gaborik’s, but at least that’s worked
out. 

With financial hell looming again this summer, Sather
shipped Kotalik off and created cap relief. 
Many believed this was an impossible task to begin with, but Sather also
managed to get rid of Higgins who couldn’t score to save his life.  Higgins was set to depart as a Restricted
Free Agent after the season anyway but Kotalik had an unfathomable two years of
residence left in John Tortorella’s doghouse. 
Both players were weighing the team down and everyone in the league knew
it.  And Sather took back no future money
and also improved the team’s present fortunes. 
Are you kidding me?

With the Gomez and Kotalik magic acts completed, there’s
reason to believe Sather can shed Roszival or Redden’s salary next.  Of course the only problem with freeing up $3
million from Kotalik and potentially more from dealing Redden/Roszival is that
you never know where Sather will spend it next. 

On second thought, can we have a mulligan Calgary?

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