NEW YORK (WFAN) — James Dolan says he has an appreciation for just how difficult it is to build a championship team.
Which is why he told WFAN’s Mike Francesa that he hopes he has in Phil Jackson what he’s had for years in Glen Sather.
Someone who knows what he’s doing.
The owner of the Knicks and Rangers showed up at the WFAN studios on Tuesday and expressed his admiration for Sather, the architect of the team that will open the Stanley Cup finals against the Kings in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.
“Glen and I got close right away. I don’t know, maybe we’re kind of kindred souls. I’ve always believed in him. I knew he’d get us here. I really do believe in him and you can tell when someone really knows what he’s doing,” Dolan said.
Sather took over as general manager in 2000 following a long and successful run in Edmonton, where he engineered the creation and cultivation of five Stanley Cup winning teams. Though the Rangers have not won a Cup since 1994, they have made the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons, including their current run to the Cup finals and their appearance in the Eastern Conference finals in 2012.
Dolan said it’s easy to sit back and let a man with hockey know-how like Sather take charge.
“I’m very proud of the job that Glen has done. He’s been masterful over the last few years putting together this team,” Dolan said.
As for the other team he owns, the Knicks, Dolan said he’s willing to defer to the expert once again as he seems pretty convinced that Phil Jackson as president and general manager will get the Knicks back to the point where they are playing for a championship again, something they haven’t done since 1998-99.
Dolan told Francesa for his most recent birthday he received a T-shirt from his family that simply reads “Ask Phil,” a reference to the running theme that went with Jackson’s hiring in mid-March: let the guy with the 11 championship rings do his job.
When asked if there have been any rifts between owner and GM, as has been reported, Dolan said, “Not that I’m aware of.”
When asked if he’s had any input on who the next head coach of the Knicks will be, Dolan said, “I have not asked (Jackson) about the coaching search, on purpose. I told him I’m here for you if you need me. If you don’t need me, I have a lot of other things to do.
“He’s taking control. He and Steve (Mills) are working very well together,” Dolan added.
And what about Carmelo Anthony’s possible free agency? Has the owner felt the need to jump in an advise the GM on how to handle the situation?
“Unless (Jackson) asks me to help, it’s his to run,” Dolan said.
So while the Knicks’ off-court situations play themselves out, presumably without interference from Dolan, the Rangers are on the verge of turning New York City on its ear. Dolan said the Rangers have really taken on a determined identity, one that could lead them to their first championship in 20 years.
“They are interesting because you saw what they did against Pittsburgh, down 3-1, an amazing team. There’s something inside this team, a feeling amongst themselves that they can feel. They believe and they believe in each other and they’ve become very close. I think it’s part of their strength,” Dolan said.
Dolan talked about several other things during his interview with Francea, including the Rangers rallying around veteran winger Martin St. Louis and the appreciation he has for how Sather handled the firing of John Tortorella. Please click on the link below to listen to Dolan’s complete interview with Francesa.