Flashback Repost: The Rangers 1997 Offer Sheet of HHOF Joe Sakic

On Tuesday night Joe Sakic is going to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The post below, originally from July 19th is a flashback to when the Rangers signed Joe Sakic to an offer sheet in 1997.

On July 28, 1997, Mark Messier signed a contract with the Vancouver Canucks for $20 million over three years.

Following this, the Rangers set off on a path to replace Messier and targeted superstar center Joe Sakic.

In Behind The Moves, Neil Smith said “When we lost Messier [to Vancouver as a free agent], [my boss] Dave [Checketts] comes in and says to me, ‘We should do an offer sheet on Joe Sakic.’… He said, ‘I’m on the board of governors and the Nuggets and Avalanche are broke and [their parent company CEO] Charlie [Lyons] says they are out of money. We’ll front-load [the offer] and they can’t match because they can’t come up with the cash.’

Below is an account from the NY Times and the NY Daily News about the Rangers pursuit of Sakic as a restricted free agent.

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Flashback: John Tortorella Should Coach The Rangers (April 5, 2000)

Following the dismissal of John Muckler as head coach and Neil Smith as GM at the end of the 1999-2000, the Rangers gave assistant coach John Tortorella the job of interim head coach to finish out the final four games of the season.

The New York Daily News wrote on April 5, 2000 that Tortorella was the right man to lead the Rangers.

You’d be hard-pressed to find somebody inside the Rangers’ dressing room who does not believe that interim coach John Tortorella deserves to get the job full-time. And after Monday night’s loss at Washington, a couple of important Ranger voices sounded on Tortorella’s behalf.

Brian Leetch said at the time “I think he can be a head coach. He’s got a great understanding of the game and he’s a very emotional person. He’s going to get a chance sometime. I don’t know what they’re going to decide here. But certainly, if he was the one they decided was best, I’d certainly endorse John being around.”

Petr Nedved said that he couldn’t guarantee wins with Tortorella as the coach “But I think they would give him a hard 60 minutes every night and that’s what we need.” He added “next year, I think he would be a really good coach here” and “personally, I have fun playing for him. I think that he’s a fair guy and I think that the guys would love to play for him.

Glen Sather was hired to be GM and Ron Low as head coach.

Tortorella left the organization to become associate coach with Tampa Bay before taking over as head coach.

Flashback: How Close The Rangers Got To Acquiring Wayne Gretzky In 1988

Today is the 24th anniversary of Wayne Gretzky being traded from Edmonton To Los Angeles for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, three first-round draft picks and $15 million.

In 1988 the New York Times reported that Glen Sather approached Rangers GM Phil Esposito about acquiring Gretzky but terms couldn’t be agreed to. Esposito said ‘It’s great to have Gretzky, but who’s he going to play with? I think it’s too much.”

During an interview last year Esposito said that the Rangers were prepared to send Tomas Sandstrom, Kelly Kisio and John Vanbiesbrouck to the Kings but that the money could not be agreed upon.

Flashback: The Rangers 2002 Coaching Search (Daily News Edition)

Following his second straight season leading the Rangers, Ron Low was not retained as head coach in the spring of 2002.

At the time, GM Glen Sather said to the Daily News “I think the obvious answer is that we haven’t made the playoffs in two years. I don’t think it’s just the coach’s responsibility in a situation like this. We all have to share equally in this. But in every situation, there’s someone that ends up taking the blame in these kinds of deals and it’s generally the coach that does.”

The search for a replacement started immediately and 1999 Stanley Cup winner Ken Hitchcock was at the top of the list.

Below is an account of the Rangers search for a head coach in the spring of 2002 as told through the Daily News.

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Flashback: How Henrik Lundqvist Became The King

In the NY Post, Larry Brooks writes that he bestowed the moniker of “King Henrik” on Henrik Lundqvist early on during his Rangers career.

The first mention, as far as the NY Post archives could pull up, was in a game story on October 16, 2005 which was a 5-1 win over the Thrashers.

“Fast becoming a Broadway folk hero, King Henrik of Sweden took an abbreviated victory lap around the ice while raising his stick and glove in a return salute to the fans who alternately chanted, “Henrik” and “Lundqvist” throughout the match in which the goaltender made several nifty stops among his 28 saves.”

In SI, where Hank was on the cover, Brian Cazenevue wrote about how that was the night that NY started to embrace Hank, “But it wasn’t until his second game at the Garden, two days later against the Thrashers, when the affection between goalie and city became palpable. Late during a brilliant night in the net, Lundqvist gave up an unlucky, bad-angle goal after it bounced off a teammate’s skate. A 4-0 Rangers lead was now 4-1. The crowd stood, but instead of booing, it chanted, in a Gotham-inflected serenade, “Hen-REEK! Hen-REEK!” He was thrown. “That’s not for me, is it?” he asked himself. “I just got here.” Ten minutes after New York’s 5-1 win, he again circled the ice as the game’s first star, clapped for the crowd’s generosity and tossed his stick into the stands. “

As also noted in many articles from the NY Post archive, Hank was looked at as a highly regarded player in the Rangers system a few years before he made his debut.

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