Flashback: Joe Sakic, The Rangers and The Offer Sheet Of 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: When Glen Sather Asked Mark Messier To Coach The Rangers

In the spring of 2002, with Ron Low finishing his final season as head coach of the New York Rangers, captain Mark Messier, 41 years old at the time, told the NY Daily News that he wasn’t interested in becoming coach of the Rangers, “No. “(Coaching) is not in my immediate plans, that’s for sure. You probably never say never, but I’ve never given it much thought. And not right now. I have no interest in coaching.”

Following the Rangers firing of Brian Trottier in January 2003, Messier revealed in the NY Daily News that Glen Sather had asked him before the season about going behind the bench, “He did ask me, to be very honest, he did ask me last year if I was going to play, and if I didn’t, would I be interested in coaching the team last year,” Messier said, referring to a conversation they had shortly after Ron Low was fired as Sather’s first Rangers head coach. “I said I didn’t know if I was going to play. And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t play, would you be interested in coaching?'”

Messier added, “Glen has been asking me to do that for a long time, but I’m a player right now and I don’t want to coach. I’m under no illusion that because I’ve played the game and been involved and won before that that automatically translates into a coach.

Sather coached the team following the firing of Trottier but only because assistant coach Jim Schoenfeld turned down the job.

The report says that Herb Brooks was twice offered the position of head coach and, along with Larry Robinson, turned it down.

The NY Post says that Pavel Bure asked Sather to coach the team before Trottier was hired and also says that Schoenfeld turned down the head coaching position.

Messier has been working as a special assistant to Glen Sather the past three seasons.

Read: How Not Trading For Pavel Bure Got Neil Smith Fired

In the book “Behind The Moves,” Jason Farris spoke with NHL General Managers past and present about how they conduct business and to tell stories about their lives in hockey.

Neil Smith talks about how he had a chance at Pavel Bure but didn’t want to pay the price.

“There was a deal on the table for Pavel Bure when [Brian] Burke was in Vancouver, and he was shopping Bure to us and Florida….Burkie wanted [Manny] Malholtra, [Dan] Cloutier, and some other young guy which was like stripping me of what I thought at the time were my best guys. I was trying to rebuild the team, and [Wayne] Gretzky was on the team and now Pavel Bure was available, so our owners here wanted me to do everything I could to get Bure. They were new owners and they didn’t understand that you had to do [to rebuild]. I was like, ‘No fucking way. I don’t want this guy. Even if I could get him on the team for free, I’m not going to do it.’…That’s what ultimately led to the end of me [as Rangers GM]. [Owners Charles and James Dolan] didn’t analyze the club to see [where I had] brought it since 1989. They just said, ‘Today. Today. Today.’….They went out and got Glen [Sather] and paid him a bunch of money, and he got rid of all of my young guys and brought in all old guys. And they missed the playoffs for four more years.”

Bure was traded to Florida in 1999 with Bret Hedican, Brad Ference and a third round pick for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes and Florida’s first round pick in 2000.

You can order the book here.

Flashback: When Neil Smith Didn’t Pull The Trigger On An Adam Oates Trade

On February 7th, 1992, the St. Louis Blues traded Adam Oates to the Boston Bruins for center Craig Janney and Stefan Quintal. According to Behind The Moves, Neil Smith had a chance to add Oates to the Rangers team that won the Presidents Trophy that season.

“Ronnie Caron in St. Louis was a very impulsive GM. He called me one night and said, ‘I am going to trade Adam Oates. Are you interested?’ I said yeah, because we’d had him when I was recruiting in Detroit. He wanted to do the deal right away. He ended up trading Oates to Boston for Craig Janney…. But that was Ronnie. He made the snap decision. I had a trade done [with him]: Adam Oates and Paul Cavallini for Darren Turcotte and James Patrick, [but] I didn’t want to make a trade without the coach’s blessing. So I went in to Roger [Neilson,] and he was the opposite of an impulsive guy…. He figured that there must be something wrong with Oates; otherwise, why would they trade him?… To this day, obviously I should have [made the trade] but my coach didn’t want to do it. There are some GMs who don’t talk to the coach [about potential trades,] but in my way of doing things, I don’t want to give [my coach] an excuse for not winning. If I told Roger that he was going to get Adam Oates no matter what … then every time Adam Oates screwed up, he was going to look at me and say, ‘I can’t win with this guy. Why did you give me this guy? I told you I couldn’t win with this guy.’”

In November of 1993, the Rangers traded Turcotte and Patrick to get Steve Larmer, Nick Kypreos, Barry Richter and Hartford’s sixth round choice.

Flashback: When The Nordiques Traded Eric Lindros to the Rangers and Flyers At The Same Time

On June 22, 1991, the Quebec Nordiques selected Eric Lindros with the first overall pick in the 1991 NHL Draft.

Lindros though, refused to sign with Quebec and instead played another season of Junior hockey in Oshawa and with the Canadian Olympic team.

This is a look back through the NY Times archives of the time where Eric Lindros was traded to the Rangers and the Flyers.

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Flashback: The Times Brett Hull Was Almost A Ranger

In the months after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994 a clause in Mark Messier’s contract was triggered where Mark Messier could renegotiate the $2.6 million that was owed him on his contract.

Messier wanted more than $5 million per season in a new contract and the new owners of Madison Square Garden ITT/Cablevision didn’t want to pay him more than $4 million per season. The new owners also fired the President of MSG Bob Gutowski because they offered Messier a contract worth more than $5 million.

Because of this stalemate, the NY Times reported on September 21, 1994 that there had been discussions of a potential swap of Mark Messier and Brett Hull.

Hull was supposedly offered as compensation to the Rangers when the Blues hired Mike Keenan. The compensation ended up with the Rangers acquiring Petr Nedved for Esa Tikkanen and Doug Lidster.

Hull, 30 at the time, had just come off of scoring 57 goals in the 1994 season and was under contract for the next four seasons.

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Flashback: The Rangers 2001 Pursuit Of Jaromir Jagr

On July 11th, 2001, the financially strapped Pittsburgh Penguins traded Jaromir Jagr to the Washington Capitals for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek, Ross Lupaschuk. The Rangers had significant interest in acquiring Jagr but would not pay the reported price for him. Instead, the Rangers acquired Eric Lindros from the Philadelphia Flyers.

This is a look back, through the NY Post archives, of the Rangers failed pursuit of Jagr.

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