Has it really come to this?
During the second intermission of last night’s game between the New York Rangers and Calgary Flames, MSG Network aired an interview with Rangers GM Glen Sather. In the interview, Sather explained that it is time for unsigned RFA Derek Stepan to “smell the roses” and agree to the contract he has been offered. Sather went on to say that he doesn’t think Stepan is a big enough fool to let this dispute continue for much longer.
Sather’s comments are interesting to say the least. There is obvious frustration that has been built up for both sides, but bringing discussions away from the negotiation table and using the media to his advantage shows me that Sather is running out of ideas on how to get Stepan under contract before the regular season begins.
The comments show Sather is not only fed up, but also running out of patience. Sather has been a GM in the NHL for a very long time, so it’s tough to truly question this tactic, but it does show that he may finally be lost when it comes to new ideas for gaining leverage over Stepan’s side.
Whether you agree with the ethics or not, credit Sather for taking a chance and using all available resources to his advantage. If it doesn’t drive Stepan and his agent further away, this could be a key moment in getting both sides to agree to a deal. Of course, this was a huge risk.
Nobody likes to be viewed as the villain, and Sather painted Stepan as such during the interview last night. With Rangers fans watching, Sather essentially told the world that the reason Stepan has not agreed to a contract yet is because he is a stubborn fool who thinks too much of himself at such a young age — not exactly the best way to build confidence in your young star center.
Whether you’re on Sather’s side or Stepan’s, everyone can agree that it doesn’t matter what type of strategies either side use as long as the Rangers have the 23-year-old center under contract by October 3. The latest move by Sather puts the ball in Stepan’s court, and the question now is whether or not he will be willing to continue to play this back-and-forth game with the Rangers GM.
Time is running out.
Martin Burns covers the New York Rangers for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter!