The standard Rangers GM faces before franchise-altering decision

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Date sent: 2017/11/22 07:35:54
Jeff Gorton, the third-year general <a href=""></a> manager plotting the course for a Rangers team that is attempting to retool on the fly, will face moments of truth as the fork-in-the-road trade deadline approaches.
Of his predecessors, perhaps only Neil Smith in 1994 — who, urged by coach Mike Keenan to change the club’s makeup heading into the playoffs, ripped up the NHL’s best regular-season squad — dealt with as weighty a challenge as Gorton will confront at the deadline.
There are 10 who preceded Gorton, whose first day on the job was July 1, 2015 following four seasons as Glen Sather’s chief lieutenant and eight overall in the New York front office. And while it is too early to rate his performance, it is the time for The Post to rank the men who came before him.
From top to bottom:
1. Lester Patrick, 10/26-2/46: The job description was somewhat less complex back then, but the Silver Fox was largely responsible for the procurement of players who formed the greatest generation of Rangers in winning the Stanley Cup in 1928, 1933 and 1940 while going to the finals three other times. Was behind the bench from the inaugural 1926-27 season through 1938-39. Owns the ultimate tie-breaker with his iconic performance in Game 2 of the 1928 finals against the Montreal Maroons when, at age 44, the retired defenseman replaced the injured Lorne Carr in nets during the second period and limited his foes to one goal on 19 shots in the Blueshirts’ 2-1 overtime victory.
2.Neil Smith, 7/89-3/00: Despite the fact that it ended so darn bloody, it is impossible to minimize the GM’s role in building the only team to win the Cup on the Broadway over the last 77 years. When Smith took over, the Blueshirts had not won a thing since finishing first in the seven-team NHL in 1941-42. The Rangers captured the Patrick Division title in Smith’s first year on the job in 1989-90, won the Presidents’ Trophy in 1991-92 and then again in 1993-94 on their way to the momentous ride up the Canyon of Heroes. Traded bold and traded big, not always to his benefit. All that followed 1994 has kept Smith from being officially recognized at the Garden but does not diminish his standing in this ranking.
3. Emile Francis, 10/64-1/76: The beloved Father of the Rangers’ Modern Era, the Cat resurrected the franchise that had been an Original Six doormat and brought it to prominence by assembling what likely stands as the NHL’s best team never to win the Stanley Cup. Drafted brilliantly, traded aggressively but perhaps not always wisely in the eternal effort to find the one missing link. Greatest blunder was allowing Fred Shero to get away to Philadelphia after <a href=""></a> having coached clubs in the Blueshirts’ minor league system to three titles within eight years on three different levels. Francis’ choice of interim guys surrounding his own lengthy stints behind the bench — Boomer Geoffrion, Larry Popein and Ron Stewart — were particularly uninspiring.
4.Craig Patrick, 11/80-7/86: Generated a handful of extremely popular clubs coached by Herb Brooks that ultimately came as close as possible to derailing the Islanders’ dynasty before the Oilers did it in 1984. Draft picks included Brian Leetch (ninth overall in the GM’s final act a month before his dismissal), Mike Richter, John Vanbiesbrouck, James Patrick, Tony Granato, Tomas Sandstrom and Jan Erixon.

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