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Rangers Say “NO!” to Peca August 22, 2007

Sather Ignores Ultimatum by Peca’s Agent


Free agent Michael Peca has signed a contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets for one year pending a medical examination. Statements by Peca and Don Meehan over the last two weeks indicated that Peca was close to signing with the New York Rangers. However, when Rangers’ president and general manager Glen Sather did not respond to an ultimatum issued by Meehan on Tuesday, Peca signed with Columbus.

Michael Peca’s interest in playing for the Rangers became a circus because Meehan and Peca negotiated in the media. John Dellapina and The Daily News acted as a pipeline for Peca and Meehan to the Garden Faithful. They tried to make a deal happen that apparently had no value to the Rangers’ management.

It is likely that there was a major deal-breaker somewhere in this whole process. Meehan’s ultimatum certainly didn’t make things pleasant, and ultimatums usually are the act of a bully or the result of desperation. While it is “admirable” that Peca wanted inside the Rangers’ Pearly Gates, trying to blast open the door likely was not the best approach.


It is also possible that there was a problem during Peca’s interview process with the Rangers. While it is more than likely that there was nothing medically wrong with Peca, it is common knowledge that Renney and the staff demand top conditioning and physical ability. Also, Peca’s size does not add to an already smallish Ranger line-up and may not be appropriate for the center of the Rangers third line. Peca’s size, as others have written, may make him more prone to injury. While Peca is a respectable hockey player, he may have too many risks for the Rangers..

The decision not to sign Peca could also have been a simple matter of preserving the Rangers’ limited cap space..

It is not unreasonable to speculate that Peca’s meetings with the Rangers’ coaches did not produce a good fit. Chemistry is a key element on this cohesive team, a lesson that the Rangers have learned all too well over the last two seasons. Also, the way Peca and Meehan involved the press raises red flags about what Peca would leak to the press during the season. Ultimately, all that matters is that Renney, Sather, Jim Schoenfeld and others felt that passing on Peca was their best move.

Some may wonder why Sather did not respond to Meehan’s ultimatum and just let the deadline pass. There are many ways to respond to ultimatums. My personal choice over the years was to take the option that hurt the ultimatum’s issuer the most, the “or else.”. Sather was far more professional. Why even respond to childish and unprofessional threats?

Throughout this incredibly long and often distasteful process for Rangers fans, maintaining neutrality about Peca becoming a Ranger seemed a wise approach. Sather and his management team have done a good job designing the 2007-2008 Rangers, and it was easy to believe that they would make the best decision for the team. However, when Peca and Meehan tried to raise the stakes by involving Columbus and another invisible team, it was obvious that the Rangers needed to walk away from Michael Peca.

Rangers fans can now return to their peaceful summer siestas and dream about the start of the new hockey season.

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