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But there's another side to the Oilers'—and Sather's—image. Cocksure. Unafraid. When the Oilers fell behind the Islanders three games to none during the 1983 finals, Muckler came into the locker room to find that Kevin Lowe had scrawled on the blackboard: ISLES 3 OILERS 0. WE'VE GOT THEM WHERE WE WANT THEM. NOW LET'S START PLAYING.
It's the sort of attitude Sather encourages. "He operates using positive rather than negative motivation," says Dr. Art Quinney of the University of Alberta, who oversees the Oilers' physical conditioning. "The carrot approach."
The Oilers have known all kinds of carrots, including trips to Palm Springs and Hawaii. "Sather's a master psychologist," says Quinney. "He has an intuitive grasp for what turns people's cranks."
On the Oilers' Stanley Cup rings, carved into the thick gold band, is a carrot with a single bite in it. That was the players' idea. There is room for more.
It is late, after midnight, and Sather pulls his Jaguar to a halt. He has a taste for the finer things in life, no question about that. He also owns two Jeeps, a snowmobile and a Tennessee Walker. Over his garage door is a bumper sticker that reads HE WHO DIES WITH THE MOST TOYS WINS. So far, among hockey general managers anyway, he's ahead.
Sather proposes a plan he has been thinking about. What if, he wonders, Muckler coached the club for a year, then Green for a year, then Sather for a year. Co-coaches. A surprisingly warm family man, Sather is concerned that his sons are growing up without him, and he's the one who's missing out.
"Let's face it, Glen. You're not prepared to give up coaching yet," Ann says.
"Well, maybe I'll coach just a little bit."
"You see," she says with a grin, "now it's a little bit."
"Well, why can't I be an assistant coach?"