Life around the Rangers has gotten clearer and murkier at the same time.  While the Blueshirts reached an agreement with developed Larry Gottesdiener to keep the Wolf Pack in Hartford for at least the next four seasons, the Rangers and Wolf Pack front office are in a state of minor upheaval.

With Don Maloney heeding Horace Greeley’s advice to go west, the Rangers have a whole in their front office.  A plethora of names have been mentioned as the new Assistant General Manager.  It has been assumed that Mark Messier is the leading candidate based on his throwing his helmet into the arena to replace Glen Sather as GM – comments that might have started greasing the skids for Maloney’s departure given Sather’s rather tepid backing of Maloney.

Another ex-Ranger also had his named kicked around the water cooler.  Messier’s former linemate Adam Graves has been working as the team’s Special Assistant, Prospect Development and Community Relations for almost two years.

Jim Schoenfeld’s name has also surfaced as a replacement for Maloney.  Schoeney has coached the Wolf Pack for the past two seasons after being named GM in July 2003.  There was some talk that Schoenfeld would give up the coaching reigns to Ken Gernander and concentrate on his GM duties in Hartford.

However, in his May 30 article about the Pack’s return, “Hartford Courant” writer Bruce Berlet asked Schoenfeld about rumors that he was under consideration for an assistant coaching position with Tampa Bay.  Ironically, that position opened up when the Lightning fired Schoenfeld’s former Buffalo Sabres teammate Craig Ramsay.  Schoenfeld told Berlet he had not spoken to the Lightning, nor had he spoken to Sather about Maloney’s position.

Another name who has been mentioned is Gordie Clark, the Rangers head Amateur Scout.  Clark has NHL front office experience after spending six years as the Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel for the New York Islanders.  As part of his duties, he was the de facto GM of the Isles AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.

One additional possibility is that Tom Renney could return to the front office.  The Rangers’ coach spent two years as Director of Player Personnel before being promoted to Vice President, Player Development in June 2002.

If it were my call, I would like to bring in someone outside the organization in order to get a different perspective.  Kevin Cheveldayoff was one of the finalists for the Phoenix Coyotes job and would bring in a young perspective to the organization.  Cheveldayoff has spent the last nine season’s running the Chicago Wolves.  In 2002, he led the Wolves to the AHL championship and helped lead them to the IHL championship in 1998 and 2000.  In addition to those championships as General Manager, Cheveldayoff also won IHL championships as the Assistant Vice President and Assistant Coach for the Denver/Utah Grizzlies in 1995 and 1996.

Cheveldayoff, a first round draft pick of the Islanders in 1988, played five minor league seasons before an injury cut the defenseman’s career short.

Hmm, a former Islander minor league defenseman turned front office executive.  When was the last time I heard that type of description for a Rangers front office member?  Oh yeah, those were the qualifications that Neil Smith brought to the Rangers – and that didn’t turn out all that badly.

However, it is highly doubtful Sather would go outside the organization for an Assistant GM – especially when he has a couple of in-house selections.  While Messier still debates whether or not he wants to commit to the grind of a front office position, I still contend that his best position in the NHL is as coach.  Can you imagine Messier’s steel-eyed glare to the first player who did not give 100%?!?

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