A Closer Look at Jay Feaster

Kent Wilson
December 29 2010 09:06AM

 

 

 While it's uncertain Jay Feaster will ultimately be the guy to take over the Flames in the wake of Darryl Sutter, at the very least he is the custodian left in charge of the club for the remainder of this season. Here's some background on the cat that will be minding the store for the next few months (and perhaps indefinitely).

Feaster is an odd duck in the NHL managerial game in that he doesn't come from a hockey background. A young lawyer in Harrisburg, he stumbled upon hockey management when he was assigned to deal with the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company. Parent corp to the AHL Hersehy Bears, Feaster leveraged his contact through Hershey Entertainment to become the assistant to the team's president before eventually being named the club's GM in 1990. Feaster spent almost a decade with the Bears and was named the AHL's executive of the year in 1997, the same season the team won the Calder Cup.

Feaster moved up the ladder soon after, joining the Lightning as their assistant GM in 1998 before eventually replacing Rick Dudley in 2002. Tampa Bay would peak during Feaster's tenure, winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 before stumbling back down to the depths of the Eastern Conference soon after. The team's flagging fortunes plus the onset of the ill-fated Len Barrie/Oren Koules ownership led to Feaster's resignation in 2008.

I recently contacted John Fontana of the SBN blog Raw Charge to provide insight on Feaster's tenure in Tampa Bay. Here are some of his responses to my inquiries:

1.) Feaster was Tampa's GM during their Stanley Cup winning season. To what degree was he responsible for that roster?

Jay, while involved with the Bolts for a while but not in the capacity of GM, was more responsible for finishing touches with the roster than building the entire team. The core forwards (Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Fredrik Modin, Dave Andreychuk, Tim Taylor) had all been brought in by other GM’s through the draft or free agency. Other bit players on offense too (Ben Clymer, martin Cibak, Dimitry Afanasenkov). That’s just offense. It was Rick Dudley who brought in Nikolai Khabibulin, it was former GM/head coach Jacques Demers that had secured Corey Sarich. And Jassen Cullimore. It was final pieces that Jay secured – Brad Lukowich and Ruslan Fedotenko (2002 entry draft trades), signing Corey Stillman (2003 off-season), trading for Darryl Sydor (2003-04 season) that. The media gives Jay tons of credit for building the team… And yet it’s misplaced. He did help put the team over the top, but he was not the grand architect.

2.) Tampa didn't stay on top for long. What hand did Jay have in their fall from grace?

I’m going to say one name, which started the dominoes falling: Nikolai Khabibulin. When Nikolai Khabibulin got offered more money in Chicago, Jay was screwed. The goaltender he had brought int o back up Khabby (John Grahame) was suddenly the #1 netminder… And from that point forward there were miscalculations on how to solve goaltending issues with the Lightning every time someone didn’t pan out. Grahame was inconsistent – maddeningly so. He was backed up by elder Sean Burke. The Bolts went out to acquire a potential #1 netminder in Marc Denis, and that became a disaster of grand proportions.

Not only did Denis not pan out, but they broke up one of their two scoring lines (by trading Modin to Columbus in the deal) in order to acquire him. They spent a #1 draft pick on Riku Helenius – who hasn’t developed into an NHL netminder, let alone the #1 that was projected of him at the draft in 2006. And then there’s the Brad Richards trade – for Mike Smith. Feaster kept betting high on players, and kept robbing his own team in order to cover the bet (“THIS is the goalie that will work out for us!” ). All the while, the franchise was bringing in quality talent that worked out to replace players that were jettisoned in order to obtain a new goalie. Basically, that’s what I see as the downfall of the Lightning: Feaster consistently gambled and lost.

3.) Feaster had some doozy trades by the end of his tenure: Richards for junk and Dan Boyle to the Sharks. How would you grade his overall trade resume?

While Feaster may not have resigned yet by the time the Boyle trade went down, this was a move done by Len Barrie. I talked about the Marc Denis trade above – Denis for Fredrik Modin and Fredrik Norrena. It robbed the Bolts. But at the same time, Feaster pulled off some trades that worked out (Ruslan Fedotenko and Brad Lukowich, the Darryl Sydor for Alexander Svitov deal; Kevin Weekes to Carolina for Chris DIngman and Shane Willis). Yet, those two haunting trades are for goalies that robbed the Bolts – Richards and Johan Holmqvist (who was serviceable, if not stellar) for Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern. That was just painful to endure. And with Smith’s issues… It’s painful to reminisce about.

I’d give him a C - Dingman, Lukowich, Fedotenko, Sydor were all part of the cup team…but those monstrosity trades for so-so goalies just have had a longer, more negative effect on the club.

4.) How was the Bolts drafting under Feaster's tenure?

Please… Don’t make me recall! Please don’t make me recall!

 Well, Feaster did spend two very high draft picks on former Calgary Hitmen (Mike Egener in 2003 and Andy Rogers in 2004), but honestly, aside from temporary dividends, and good results from his last two draft classes… well, his drafting left a lot to be desired.

During the summer of 2010, I recapped three periods of drafting by Feaster – 2002 , 2003-2006 , and

2007-08 (along with a general synopsis of Lightning draft successes by each GM).

Besides Stamkos, Airdrie native Dana Tyrell and other former WHL players, I don’t know if any of Feaster’s picks truly stand out.

5.) How would you grade Feaster during his time there?

I’m blunt in judging Jay. While others (fans and media) had a relationship with Jay (talking with the guy and discussing moves), I wasn’t in on the conversation. What I saw was a capable executive who was good at contracts and good at accounting, but someone who did not have the proper scouting staff around him. He did not seem committed to long term development because it would cost his NHL roster.

I’d rank him a C. The downfall of the team in 2007-08 was helped along greatly by the sale of the Bolts. Feaster’s hands were tied while ownership was in flux. He lost control when OK (not really) Hockey took over the team and resigned.

The Flames future under Jay really depends on who he is surrounded by. I thought he was too loyal to a scouting staff that was laying goose eggs. And even with poor draft selections, there was just not enough support for player development. If Jay does not want to upset the status quo in Calgary, then there will be problems. Minor changes will not correct deeper organizational personnel issues .

Feaster's resume is good from some angles, less so from others. He has a background in legal contract negotiation - something many NHL execs lack - and is on record as not being a fan of no-trade and no-movement clauses. The Lightning enjoyed a brief spurt of dominance during his reign as well, winning the SE division twice and the ultimate prize over the Flames before the lock-out. 

On the other hand, the club quickly fell off a cliff after they peaked in '04 and Feaster was unable to contain the slide. I'm also dubious about his ability to assess hockey theory and strategy thanks to many of the articles he penned during a two-year stint at the Hockey News. My less than enthusiastic response to his addition to the organization in the summer was due in no small part to the fact that Feaster:

- Panned the Dany Heatley trade for the Sharks because Heater isn't "a team player" (at the same time, declaring Bryan Murray a front-runner for "executive of the year". Seriously).

- Congratulating himself for not acquiring Tomas Vokoun because he just isn't "clutch". Remember, John mentions above that Feaster's inability to adequately fill the goaltending void was a major part of the team's downfall post-championship.

- Talked about "building from the net out" after his installation as the Flames assistant GM. As Flames fans have come to realize, "defense wins championships" is no longer an iron law in the modern NHL.

If you'll follow the links above, you'll find the issue isn't necessarily that I fundamentally disagree with on his various points (which I do), but because the reasoning behind them is so...facile. His article on Vokoun, for example, was written five games into the season. He concluded that Vokoun was "carried by his back-ups and would have to be again...this time by Scott Clemmensen". It was a laughable contention, not only because of Vokoun's lengthy history as a quality netminder behind mediocre clubs, but also because of a miniscule five-game sample size. His talk about team chemistry and grit and heart and various other cliches in respect to the Heatley trade was equally trite, messageboard fodder.

I can't be certain that Feaster wasn't simply writing under certain editorial restraints and for an assumed audience. His articles for THN were frequently "safe", trading in cliche and common vernacular rather than offering true insight. A lawyer with nearly two decades in the business of managing professional hockey teams, it's hard to believe the bilge he produced during his time in the media is the bredth and depth of his knowledge. Here's hoping it isn't at the very least.

Overall, I'm lukewarm on Feaster. His legal background in contract negotiation and such is a plus and he did win a championship. On the other hand, the cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning were mostly assembled by others and the club rapidly declined post-lock-out under his watch. His public pronouncements on the strategy of hockey also left a lot to be desired, although they likely aren't the full measure of his thoughts on the subject.

Feaster is bound to get some time and leeway this season to sketch out a plan for the club going forward as well as make some moves to that end. His actions from now to April will go a lot further in telling us whether he's the right guy for the job or not. 

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 John
December 29 2010, 09:23AM
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Minor correction -- the team wasn't bringing in quality talent to replace guys that were beign traded off. Omitted word.

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#2 Rain Dogs
December 29 2010, 09:33AM
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I'm certainly not defending Feaster, because I believe I think less of him than you, however

Goaltending, like QB'ing, or Pitching, will always be the most critical single position for a team, and in hockey if you're neglecting the importance of goaltending, you are doing your team a massive disservice, and playing on some pretty slim odds.

Therefore, "BUILDING from the net out" will always be a sound strategy, now and for as long as I can see in this game.

With that said... PAYING, from the net out, may not be a very sound strategy.

So, if your team thinks it's smart enough to not pay for talented/elite goaltending, your scouts/GM better be doing a damn good job of sorting through the dirt to find the gold in the abundance of goalies that exist out there.

This last point is something that Jay Feaster has previously shown himself to be completely incompetent at.

Sutter was quite good at finding very good players amongst the fringes and abundance.

A bad team can make a great goaltending look poor,

A great team can make a bad goaltending look very good,

Poor goaltending can ruin a good team, but only a great goalie, can make a poor team look good.

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#3 negrilcowboy
December 29 2010, 09:48AM
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Great article Kent. It appears that Measter Feaster has an uncanny ability to place himself in the right place at the right time. Inheriting a Tampa team with undoubtedly world class talent certainly pads the resume. Budding up to a great hockey man in Jacques Demers taught him enough of the day to day hockey operations needed to advance his career. Feaster is a lawyer, and we all have opinions of lawyers.The presser comments regarding his loyalty to Darryll for the opportunity to get back in the game is a bit over the top, with his lawyering background Jay has the ability to string the right words together.The plan was set in motion months ago. Yes the Flames are in rough shape, little upside and who better than a lawyer to provide the smokescreen for King.

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#4 Domebeers.com
December 29 2010, 09:48AM
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Chicago just won a cup with an AHL goaltender.

They played Philly, who was also rocking an AHLer and only had 2 blueliners on the team.

It's about forwards now, unless Mikka is going to go 04 again and get all historic with his level of play, which probably isn't the likely case.

Feaster can really hurt this club, he is pre-lockout, and it's not exactly a good thing.

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#6 dotfras
December 29 2010, 09:53AM
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So I guess we should be ok then since we already have some good goaltending.

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#7 Rain Dogs
December 29 2010, 10:01AM
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@Domebeers.com

Well, Philly lost... and people seem to like to conveniently forget that Huet was on the salary. And we shouldn't forget about Halak.

Look, I'll put it another way. I don't care how, when, or how little you pay for your goaltending, but you better get GOOD goaltending if you want to win over a long duration.

ELC contracts go a long way. Waiting for free agency to weed out the heavy deals goes a long way.

-How's Chicago doing today with Turco? or SJ with Niemi? -Is Jimmy Howard playing poorly or playing well? -If Pittsburgh and Carolina believe in cheap goaltending, why didn't they jettison Ward and Fleury who sport .917evsv% avg over the last 6 years (not near elite which is about .925+) -Did Anaheim not have great goaltending (that went 3 deep) with Giguere, Bryzgalov and Hiller?

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#8 negrilcowboy
December 29 2010, 10:12AM
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Its not a new or revoluntionary veiwpoint that you win with great goaltending. Bower,Plante,Parent,Dryden...... However you need the horses down the middle to be a champion. The key is depth at the centre position. Gretzky-Messier, Lemieux-Francis,Sid and Staal. A key ingredient the Flames lack.

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#9 Rain Dogs
December 29 2010, 10:17AM
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@Kent Wilson

I don't see it saying that "our strategy is prioritizing over-paying for goaltending"

It says, you build from the net out. If that means stocking your cupboards with three levels deep of quality goaltending like Anaheim or Montreal .... then do it.

Montreal sported Price, Halak, and Sanford.

Anaheim once had Giguere, Bryzgalov and Hiller.

Philly has Bobrovsky, Boucher, Leighton

Detroit had Hasek, Osgood and Howard.

Building/prioritizing and paying do not have to be synonymous.

Chicago won with Niemi in net ... yes, But they had Huet, Niemi and Crawford.

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#10 everton fc
December 29 2010, 10:50AM
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Feaster is not the answer here. I think giving him the reigns as “Interim GM” is part of the solution. After the seasons over, he and King can be cut loose. Then, we get a truly fresh start, on a clean slate.

I have mentioned before I really like David McNab, current SVP of Hockey Operations in Anaheim, with three decades of NHL experience. He’s a hockey guy, from a hockey family. He knows the game, and the players. He was an exceptional scout for many years, something Feaster can never be, as he’s never played a game of hockey in his life. In fact, one of the digs on Feaster is his reliance on sub-par scouting in player personnel moves… His reckless pursuit of goaltending, at the expense of his talent-pool has a scary similarity to what we have seen here in Calgary the past few seasons…

McNab signed a one year extension, I believe, in Anaheim recently. He’d be available this summer, if the price was right. I think he’s our first target.

I know Feaster’s been in hockey for 20 years. I know he won GM of the Year in the AHL. So what?! We need a hockey person, not a lawyer. Feaster is an opportunist. A media guy. A mouthpiece. But not a true hockey guy.

I mentioned Kelly Kisio last evening on another thread. Someone responded that he never was able to get the Hitmen over the top. Agreed. And I also agree he may not be the best choice, the best fit. Still he's someone to consider, though I must admit, after an evening’s worth of discernment, he may not be the right guy here.

Jim Nill is another obvious fave, but would he leave the rapidly deteriorating metropolis of Detroit for modern, progressive Calgary? Perhaps. Ken Holland’s still young. Mid-fifties. Nill might be open to running his own team, though he is a VP with the Wings… and probably content to remain with such a solid organization.

Jason Botterill in Pittsburgh is an ex-NHLer who seems to understand the salary cap, and how to professionally manage it. I think he’d be another interesting candidate, though I don’t know much about how much he’s done on his own, outside Mr. Shero. He has no experience as a GM, of course.. and is quite young. He also doesn't have a deep background in scouting. But he's an Albertan, and seems to understand the business side of hockey, as well. Might be a good AGM.

I think Michel Goulet would also be a good AMG, under McNab or Nill...

As for coaching… I guess it’s fair to give Brent a chance to help build the future on ice product. But I still would love to see what Playfair could do, with a GM the likes of McNab… Nill…

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#11 Rain Dogs
December 29 2010, 11:04AM
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@everton fc

...His reckless pursuit of goaltending, at the expense of his talent-pool has a scary similarity to what we have seen here in Calgary the past few seasons...

Do you mean, similar to our reckless pursuit of a number 1 centre?

Cause the last thing Sutter can be said to be guilty of is recklessly pursuing goaltending at the expense of his talent pool. He did the opposite.

Sutter hitched his wagon to the Kiprustar, and neglected the depth in goal, and for too many years it was:

Kiprusoff, alone, which has worked 92.6% of the time and then a slew of second rate back-ups in McL, Karlsson (? so far?) and questionable 3rd stringers in Irving, Keetley and Shantz or last ditch efforts in washed-up leafs like Cujo or Toskala for 6 games.

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#12 negrilcowboy
December 29 2010, 11:06AM
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McNab and Nill are both viable choices, great resumes and have a hockey background.As for Feaster being an opportunist, bangon buddy. Funny how some coaches are branded Gm killers, ie Nolan. Yet Feaster rode Demers,Dudley and Darryl's tenures into the very same chair.one disturbing fact with feaster is how he in a round about way slammed Dudley. in the article Feaster comes across as a guy who sides with who ever is buttering the bread.

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#13 everton fc
December 29 2010, 11:08AM
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@Lawrence

"...His reckless pursuit of goaltending, at the expense of his talent-pool has a scary similarity to what we have seen here in Calgary the past few seasons...

Do you mean, similar to our reckless pursuit of a number 1 centre?"

Yes - meaning Feaster seems a bit like Darryl in this regard, with the pursuit of a #1 centre.

And I agree that hitching a ride on the back of an over-extended Kipper is not the best for the team. Nor for Kipper. Karlsson does look capable, though. Perhaps Darryl's last "coup"?

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#14 negrilcowboy
December 29 2010, 11:19AM
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@everton fc

Karlsson does look capable, however he has only a handful of starts.The fact that Kipper is fastly approaching the golden years of nhl goaltending.To use cowboy terms he's been rode hard and put away wet.

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#15 Rain Dogs
December 29 2010, 11:24AM
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@everton fc

Time will tell with Karlsson, but I haven't seen much that is convincing me that he is better than McElhinney. He's more dynamic and flashy, but that's the last thing you need in a goalie. Maybe he looks less nervous. McL was far better technically though (didn't fall over so much, didn't butterfly slide out of position).

My concern is this:

Kiprusoff - evsv% .923 pksv% .838 - .906

Karlsson - evsv% . 887 pksv% .971 - .902

Both those number sets are funny, but Karlssons are the larger concern. Kiprusoff's are more "true" than Karlssons. But both their pksv% are weird. McL never had a pksv% that high when he was here, as his was more in line with Kiprusoff and the rest of the league in his 7-10 games 'tiny sample' seasons.

I think Karlsson is 'winning' himself starts by being entertaining, vs being excellent, which I hope for him, and the team, is part of a progression.

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#16 madjam
December 29 2010, 11:38AM
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT - If Feaster not the answer, then how about LOWE and TAMBELLINI whom claim know how to rebuild properly and are overly patient doing so ? Sutter to Oilers to help build their backend, and Tams and Lowe to Flames to build their youthful frontend with speed and skill ?

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#17 negrilcowboy
December 29 2010, 11:46AM
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@madjam

Tambellini is a good Gm, good vision. As for Lowe, ha. Perhaps Lowe and darryll can team up. Lowe and Behold.

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#18 Bustmeester
December 29 2010, 12:23PM
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Mcnab or Nill PLEASE FLAMES OWNERSHIP HIRE THE RIGHT GUY ! DONT GO MAKING ANOTHER STUPID MISTAKE.

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#19 mikeecho
December 29 2010, 12:32PM
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Feaster inherits an NHL team, makes some minor moves to help the team win a Stanley Cup and he gets no credit.

on the other hand...

Daryl inherits an NHL team, makes some minor moves to help the team get to the finals and eventually lose, and is given "god" like treatment and the keys to the city for the next 5-6 years!

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#20 RossCreekNation
December 29 2010, 12:33PM
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If we're looking outside, I like Ron Hextall in LA or Paul Fenton in NSH.

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#21 the-wolf
December 29 2010, 12:34PM
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Well, King is an idiot when it comes to hockey and he hired Sutter. Sutter and King hired Feaster. What else is there to know?

Like the guy as an assistant GM, don't think he can do the role of GM over the long haul though.

Conte and Nill have had numerous offers to leave and always declined, but maybe with the way NJ is going now Conte may change his mind.

And I'm not saying "yes," but I'd look into Hextall out of LA for the role. Kent, do you have any LA connections where we could get some inside scoop on Hextall's upside. Other than that he's assistant GM and run their farm team I don't know much about the guy, but I like what LA has done with drafting and development and wonder how big a role he's had in that.

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#22 the-wolf
December 29 2010, 12:37PM
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mikeecho wrote:

Feaster inherits an NHL team, makes some minor moves to help the team win a Stanley Cup and he gets no credit.

on the other hand...

Daryl inherits an NHL team, makes some minor moves to help the team get to the finals and eventually lose, and is given "god" like treatment and the keys to the city for the next 5-6 years!

Bang-on dude, exactly how I feel. Really, after reading the article it's like Sutter was fortunate to have Kipper pan out while Feaster was unfortunate that all his goalie moves bombed.

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#23 mikeecho
December 29 2010, 12:38PM
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I'm also not sure how objective of a "closer look" it can be when it's written by someone (no offense intended) who has been open about his less than positive opinion of Feaster and supplemented with information from someone in TBay that is open about the fact they weren't exactly in Feaster fan club.

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#24 Robert Cleave
December 29 2010, 01:36PM
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I always have to laugh when people ask, "how's Chicago doing with cheap goaltending this year?" like it's some sort of pejorative.

09/10:

Huet: EVSV% .896, PKSV% .886, overall .895 in 48 games

Niemi: EVSV% .914, PKSV% .899, overall .912 in 39 games

10/11:

Turco: EVSV% .908, PKSV% .866, overall .901 in 22 games

Crawford: EVSV% .923, PKSV% .866, overall .916 in 18 games

The Hawks are getting at least analogous goaltending, or maybe slightly better this year. What's killing them is the 4M cap penalty that they've had to endure, because that stripped them of the ability to keep their depth players. Blaming their poorer performance on goaltending is misguided, and I'd propose that they miss Andrew Ladd a lot more than any goalie they could have kept or signed.

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#25 everton fc
December 29 2010, 01:50PM
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@negrilcowboy

"In the article Feaster comes across as a guy who sides with who ever is buttering the bread."

He's a lawyer. Innate personality trait.

@RossCreek

I saw you posted on Hextall before. I'd add him to my list, as well. Ditto Fenton. But would either leave? McNab's signing a short-term contract tells me he's ready for a change. And I think Nill (and Conte) seem happy "status quo"... though agreed - New Jersey is looking a lot more like Long Island daily.

Still, of all these, McNab's my pick. Add Hextall, but I'd take McNab over Hextall.

@the Wolf "Well, King is an idiot when it comes to hockey and he hired Sutter. Sutter and King hired Feaster. What else is there to know?"

Don't think King's an idiot, perse... But he did bring in Feaster. Agreed on that! We need to clean the closet. Fresh start. Clean slates. President, GM, Asst. GM must go.

@Lawrence "Time will tell with Karlsson, but I haven't seen much that is convincing me that he is better than McElhinney."

Agreed. I think McElhinney needed more starts. He certainly did well, once he went to Anaheim. I think it's the same with Karlsson. Given him adequate starts so he can be accurately assessed. All that said, I always thought an experienced backup who has been someaht successful filling in as a strater when need-be is the answer here.

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#26 Rain Dogs
December 29 2010, 02:37PM
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@Robert Cleave

I'm not blaming Chicago's performance on goaltending.

What I'm replying to is the idea that teams will be better off if they go with cheaper goalies vs good goalies.

I don't see any evidence, that going cheaper has made a team better.

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#27 Robert Cleave
December 29 2010, 03:49PM
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Rain Dogs wrote:

I'm not blaming Chicago's performance on goaltending.

What I'm replying to is the idea that teams will be better off if they go with cheaper goalies vs good goalies.

I don't see any evidence, that going cheaper has made a team better.

I think we're arguing past each other here again on this subject, Lawrence. What I'm simply contending, and it's the same point I made to John Down on the Herald's chat earlier today, is that there isn't as big a spread between goaltender talent in the league as at other positions, and as a result it's the one spot where a team can find UFA bargains that can operate at a high level. It's a lot harder to find elite forwards or defensemen for cheap unless they're on ELCs.

I do advise people to look at the current league standings 1-30. Of the 11 goalies that make at least 5M a year, 7 of them play on the teams currently residing between 21st and 30th. You also might notice that none of those teams score very many goals. The only really decent team that's being carried by an expensive goalie at the moment is Boston. In contrast, how many top teams are being carried by expensive forwards? The rest, pretty much, right? I'm not sure that's just an accident.

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#28 the-wolf
December 29 2010, 04:06PM
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@eveton fc - I think King knows how to make lots of money on the business side of things. But as far as hockey ops go he's clueless. It was his job in his position to step in and veto those moves that Darryl did after he'd completely lost his sanity. Instead he rubber-stamped everything (you can argue how can I know that, but considering the Phaneuf trade and Jokinen moves he had to have!)and still calls Darryl "brilliance in his field." Makes me sick.

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#29 Resolute
December 29 2010, 04:09PM
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Bustmeester wrote:

Mcnab or Nill PLEASE FLAMES OWNERSHIP HIRE THE RIGHT GUY ! DONT GO MAKING ANOTHER STUPID MISTAKE.

The funniest part of this comment is that I remember when we grabbed Craig Button from Dallas. It was just after they won the cup, and he was the up and coming, cant miss GM prospect everyone wanted. And we got him.

And oh-my-god did he ever fail as a GM.

The moral to the story? We won't know if we hired "the right guy" until after we've hired him.

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#30 everton fc
December 29 2010, 04:28PM
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@wolf

You misunderstood - I agree with you. King should be the next to go.

Then Feaster.

@Resolute

While I "get" your response to Bustmeester, and logically, it makes sense, McNab & Nill are far more proven "commodoties" than Button.

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#31 Resolute
December 29 2010, 04:32PM
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Oh sure. I'd love to have Jim Nill. I'm just saying there are no sure bets.

As far as King goes, do people not realize he isn't a hockey ops guy? He's a business guy, and runs a business that has seen over seven years of sell outs, while the Hitmen have seen a 50% increase in attendance since he took over their governorship.

Wanting King fired because you disagree with Sutter's moves is, frankly, asinine.

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#32 the-wolf
December 29 2010, 05:26PM
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Resolute wrote:

Oh sure. I'd love to have Jim Nill. I'm just saying there are no sure bets.

As far as King goes, do people not realize he isn't a hockey ops guy? He's a business guy, and runs a business that has seen over seven years of sell outs, while the Hitmen have seen a 50% increase in attendance since he took over their governorship.

Wanting King fired because you disagree with Sutter's moves is, frankly, asinine.

Everything you say is all well and good if he was "President of Business Operations." But he isn't, he's also the GM's boss on the hockey side of things. He shouldn't be. So I agree and disagree with you. He had the power to can some of the worst moves in franchise history and didn't. Darryl's brain waves, sure. King, howver, OK'ed it. Remember, "nothing happens in a vacuum in this organization." It's the same as an officer allowing the soldiers under his command to slaughter innocent civilians and then delaring that he didn't pull the trigger. Fact is, hockey ops is under his purview and he's failed at it miserably.

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#33 44stampede
December 29 2010, 05:58PM
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It's funny but as soon as Feaster was brought in as AGM I thought about all those terrible articles he wrote for THN. I didn't read one where I thought he had a clue. He actually brought down the quality of THN writing and that is hard to do.

I agree with Kent yet again. I am not too hopeful with this guy running things but not so much because of his history (which is mixed) but because of his way of thinking.

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#34 Rain Dogs
December 29 2010, 07:22PM
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@Robert Cleave

Well, I'd say that a 63/37 split in a league with this much parity isn't winning me over based on that argument alone.

I'll use the argument I made elsewhere:

Comparing Craig Anderson (who makes 4 million less today than Miikka Kiprusoff) at evens. Since 05/06 Kipper has faced 8392ev SA.

Most people 'round here regard Anderson as a savior in Colorado, and a great contract, yet his .912 ev sv% (over 4400 ev sa since 03/04) is pretty poor. Anderson would have allowed 110 more goals at even strength than Kipper(.925 vs .912) since 05/06, which is about 18 wins or 36 points over 6 seasons to date.

Perhaps the Flames don’t make the playoffs for 4 consecutive years with 6 less points per year going back to 05/06. Starting in 05/06 the Flames had 103 points - 6 = 97 (in), 90(out 06/07), 88(out 07/08), 92(out 08/09), 84(out 09/10), and now this year. And, that's only 30 points less... not 36.

The problem is, people try to measure the impact of forwards (plural) against goaltenders (singular)

I don't see many forwards carrying teams single-handidly compared to other forwards AND who aren't handsomely rewarded for it. AND forwards are often more rewarded than goalies. Maybe Crosby fits the bill.... but how many others?

If the Flames missed the playoffs for 3 extra years with a .912evsv% goalie vs Kipper, how much revenue would they lose?

Obviously value matters in a contract, but I don't think goalies are as close in talent as you like to make it out (which you believe makes high cost contracts problematic)

Compare the same distinction in forwards. Take Tanguay and Jokinen vs Iginla...for example. Or....Morrison.

Iggy has 35 pts and makes 7 million.

Morrison, Tanguay and Jokinen have 68 pts and make 5.4 million. Who is "carrying" the team? Who is better value? Who has a contract that is problematic on this team?

It's just as easy to say "Don't invest in Iggy... the distinction between him and Tanguay isn't worth the 5.3million dollar difference, when it's only 5 goals in 30 games." Not even one win.

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#35 mikeecho
December 29 2010, 07:37PM
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the-wolf wrote:

Everything you say is all well and good if he was "President of Business Operations." But he isn't, he's also the GM's boss on the hockey side of things. He shouldn't be. So I agree and disagree with you. He had the power to can some of the worst moves in franchise history and didn't. Darryl's brain waves, sure. King, howver, OK'ed it. Remember, "nothing happens in a vacuum in this organization." It's the same as an officer allowing the soldiers under his command to slaughter innocent civilians and then delaring that he didn't pull the trigger. Fact is, hockey ops is under his purview and he's failed at it miserably.

Ken King is President and CEO of the Calgary Flames...the business.

Just like the CEO of any business, he's not expected to be an expert in all or any of the fields. He's expected to know how to run a business that delivers on the mandate he's been given by the owners which is likely 1) increase the value of the business; 2) drive increased revenue; and 3) more than likely deliver a winning product to the customer. Likely in that order.

He's expected to have a staff of executive leaders who are experienced in each part of the business. Until last year, Daryl had the keys to this city and was likely the best choice to have running the hockey side of the business.

At some point, Daryl started to lose his marbles (Phaneuf / Jokinen trade), and King's problem was that he appears to have been loyal to a fault in terms of his relationship with Daryl.

Kings stuck with Daryl longer than he should have likely because items #1 and 2 of his mandate were not effected and he had hope that Daryl could work the same magic he did 7 years ago to get item #3 in line.

Short term thinking is that if you blow up the team, items 1,2 and 3 all suffer.

With more and more seats being left unused and a record sorely lacking, Ken inadvertently created the mess he hoped to avoid by keeping Sutter this summer.

The long and the short...every executive in hockey knows that they get hired with the end result more than likely that they'll get fired. That cycle likely lasts 5-7 years from start to finish. The time was up and King let friendship blur his business judgement.

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#36 mikeecho
December 29 2010, 07:40PM
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ps. I'll try not to use the word "likely" any more.

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#37 the-wolf
December 29 2010, 09:03PM
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mikeecho wrote:

Ken King is President and CEO of the Calgary Flames...the business.

Just like the CEO of any business, he's not expected to be an expert in all or any of the fields. He's expected to know how to run a business that delivers on the mandate he's been given by the owners which is likely 1) increase the value of the business; 2) drive increased revenue; and 3) more than likely deliver a winning product to the customer. Likely in that order.

He's expected to have a staff of executive leaders who are experienced in each part of the business. Until last year, Daryl had the keys to this city and was likely the best choice to have running the hockey side of the business.

At some point, Daryl started to lose his marbles (Phaneuf / Jokinen trade), and King's problem was that he appears to have been loyal to a fault in terms of his relationship with Daryl.

Kings stuck with Daryl longer than he should have likely because items #1 and 2 of his mandate were not effected and he had hope that Daryl could work the same magic he did 7 years ago to get item #3 in line.

Short term thinking is that if you blow up the team, items 1,2 and 3 all suffer.

With more and more seats being left unused and a record sorely lacking, Ken inadvertently created the mess he hoped to avoid by keeping Sutter this summer.

The long and the short...every executive in hockey knows that they get hired with the end result more than likely that they'll get fired. That cycle likely lasts 5-7 years from start to finish. The time was up and King let friendship blur his business judgement.

OK, but that still doen't change the fact that King had the power and responsibility to veto the GM on decisions that are terrible.

You know, like a CEO would do in a corporation if his CFO or some other executive started making insane decisions, to use your example.

He's the guy who hired Sutter and approved Feaster. and fired Sutter. Both those guys work in hockey operations.

Sorry, but he's not confined to business operations. He should be, but he's not. And because he thinks Darryl is some sort of damn hockey genius/god (still!), this team is the worse for it.

Standard business labels don't directly apply to most sports operations. King is, in fact, the top "hockey" guy, like it or not.

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#38 Tach
December 30 2010, 11:47AM
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@Rain Dogs

Lawrence you are way oversimplifying a number of problems here.

First, while your numbers on Anderson v. Kiprusoff are solid enough, you fail to allocate those $4 million back to another roster player that would presumably add goals somewhere else.

For example, lets say instead of Craig Conroy at an average salary since 2007-2008 of $1.25 Calgary had spent the extra $4 million on another centre - a centre with a cap hit of around $5 million, and lets limit it to UFAs. Those players would be Jason Arnott, David Legwand (each at $4.5 million) Andy McDonald ($4.7 million), Tomas Plekanec and Mike Ribeiro ($5 million each). Ryan Kesler and Jeff Carter might fit in here too, but I can't tell if their last deals were UFA or RFA deals. Over the last 3 years those players goal totals are: Arnott - 80; Legwand - 46; McDonald - 53; Plekanec - 74; Ribeiro - 68; Average - 64.2. Over the same three seasons Conroy had 27 goals. So for the incremental money we spent on Kiprusoff over Anderson we could have scored an additional 37 goals. It is a wash.

And you add up all of Morrison, Tanguay and Jokinen v. Iginla. But there are only 180 Forward minutes per game to allocate to the players. Iginla has his 35 pts in ~755 minutes of ice time (20:24 per game). Tanguay, Morrison and Jokinen have their 68 pts in ~1877 minutes. Clearly Iginla is far more valuable to have on the ice than those three.

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#39 Rain Dogs
December 30 2010, 01:14PM
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@Tach

Alex Tanguay, today scores at 2.63pts/60 at 1.7million (1.19G/60).

Jarome Iginla, today scores at 2.41pts/60 at 7 million (.94G/60)

Even Stajan scores at 2.67pts/60 at 3.5 million.

Stajan and Tanguay score at 5.3pts/60 at 5.2million.

...oh and Connie btw. .97 Goals/60min...if he played 755min vs 167 Conroy could have 15 goals as well by the stats. Put Connie on the RW and the stats say it's 5.7million and 2.46G/60 and 6.27pts/60 for the first line vs 12.2 million for the three with worse G/60 rate. I don't believe that would happen.

Both Stajan AND Tanguay score at a higher rate than Iginla, and most think Stajan is a bust. Tanguay makes a fraction of the dollars that Iggy does. Tanguay vs Iggy was my original comparison if you re-read it. I'm trying to echo the goalie comparable with forwards.

Lastly,

For everyone out there who says: Investing in goalies is silly because of UFA status and saturated market compared to performance. Let me ask you this:

Can you validate that same argument which suggest saving on goalies for forwards, using defensemen instead of goalies?

Why should I invest the extra 4 million in a defender over a forward? (or goalie?)

Please illustrate the direct effect on winning that a defender has at all, (or even greater-so than a goalie) and if you cannot, do you then conclude that they are not much value compared to forwards?

Should a team be structured 4 million in goalies, 5 million in defenders and 50million in forwards? Would a team with 12 forwards averaging 4.2million dollars each not score so many goals it wouldn't matter how poor they are in net and on "d"??? You could have Kesler as your fourth line centre with Stamkos on the wing playing with Jackman.

I don't think so because there is only so much ice-time to go around, BUT, those who question goalie value must also question defensive defensemen value as well, no? Also, goalies are out for the full 60 minutes, not 10 or 20.

The same argument tells me: I don't think that Jay Bouwmeester has a direct effect on winning at any greater level than Anton Babchuk (the latter who scores more goals, has a better goals/60 and has a better SA/60). Is it worth spending 5 million more on Jbo?... unless you say it's intangibles and minutes played factor in. But I'd be a FOOL if I believed that argument.

Perhaps, there is something about the defensive side of the puck that our stats don't capture. Defense wins championships right? Nobody says goaltending... so, ok... prove it. Wasn't that Sutters M.O.? I'd rather spend an extra 4 million on a goalie than a 5th,6th,7th defender like Sarich and Staois.

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#40 Tach
December 30 2010, 03:42PM
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Well I have gone back to re-read it and you said "Take Tanguay and Jokinen vs Iginla...for example. Or....Morrison.

Iggy has 35 pts and makes 7 million.

Morrison, Tanguay and Jokinen have 68 pts and make 5.4 million. Who is "carrying" the team? Who is better value? Who has a contract that is problematic on this team?" So I compared the three players you referenced, I was hardly being unfair.

Anyway, I don't disagree that Tanguay has been a ridiculous steal this season and is no doubt one of Darryl Sutter's best moves in the off season. If we had 12 Tanguay's Calgary would likely win the Stanley Cup. At the same time it was a big gamble and we could have got Tampa Bay Tanguay...shudder.

Conroy's numbers are clearly the product of small sample size and weaker competition. He hasn't played above 3rd line competition all season.

Plus, I think most people recognized at the time that Jarome Iginla's contract would stop becoming a value contract right about now. It was the price of getting his earlier years and I don't think any one wouldn't have signed that deal when the Flames did.

As for your question on the value of other players v. goalies, I think there are two separate factors at work.

The first is how much a player contributes to winning games. Goalies can only do this one way - stopping shots from going in the net. (There is some argument that they can affect possession numbers or chances through rebound control, puck handling etc. but can't find any numbers to back it up). It is pretty easy to measure as save percentage, particularly EV save percentage, over a sufficiently large sample size. As I understand the data, there are a couple of superlative goalies, and then a broad swath of goalies of comparable ability to keep pucks out of the net.

In order to measure a player's contribution to winning games is more difficult. I have summarily used goals, but you also need to take into account things like competition and circumstances. As I understand the data, for both forwards and defencemen have much broader skill differentials than goalies.

However the second factor is the market. When it comes to goalies there are only 30 starting spots and 30 back up spots. Once the top 5 or 6 guys are taken out - you can pretty much cheap out on the rest and get the same thing no matter what you pay.

As for the market, each team needs 12-13 forwards and 6-7 defencemen. This makes the demand for those players much higher, drives up the prices for them.

Which is to say that you are mischaracterizing the argument about goaltenders and cap allocation. I don't think anyone says that getting good goaltending isn't helpful, but given the structure of the talent pool and market it is more efficient to allocate cap space to forwards and defencemen than to goaltending, as comparable levels can be had comparatively cheaply.

I also think there are diminishing returns to over focussing on defence particularly. Call it inherent randomness, the nature of the game or whatever - but you can only prevent so many goals. No team since the lockout has averaged less than 2 goals against per game over a season. I think even if you had the best goalie and the best six defencemen in the league, you would probably give up 1.75 goals or so per game. The Flames have continually focussed since 2005 on building this defensive juggernaut that simply does not exist. The result has been a paucity of top line offensive talent, causing their scoring rates to suffer accordingly.

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#41 Rain Dogs
December 30 2010, 05:29PM
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@Tach

I'm familiar with the argument that goalies only stop pucks. That's the structure of the game. The system the rules are built within. However, that doesn't devalue that position of goaltending. Otherwise that logic devalues the position of defense MORE. Regehr DOESN'T score goals and he DOESN'T make saves (prevent goals), he gets in the way... so what direct value does he have toward winning? This is your's, and Robert's, and Kent's stance, that I hear over and over again.

"As I understand the data, for both forwards and defencemen have much broader skill differentials than goalies."

What data? What skill differential? What great value toward winning does a defensive defenseman such as Regehr have? I believe he does, but where is the data? Zero goals. Zero saves. Blocked shots? Hits? That's why he's worth 4 million? There is a correlation between hits and wins? Fights and wins? Blocked shots and wins? MORESO than saves? Isn't a save a blocked shot with MUCH more value?

I've illustrated the difference between Kiprusoff and Anderson (.925 vs .912). I want someone to illustrate the influence on winning that Jbo has over Babchuk.

No one is yet to extrapolate on how defenders are more valuable or as valuable as goalies, or how they have any value compared to forwards. Yet we know defenders have value.

My stance is balance. Balanced investment in goal, on "d", and at forward. 10%-35%-50% (about 5% of the cap per player/position. Then weight it within the position. That's 6 million for goalies. Miikka makes 5.8, that leaves 200k...or a 300k overpay. I'll take that, he's one of the best.) Paired with Karlsson it's 6.3, fine.

I'm the one being told, that forwards have value goalies can never have. So continue that logic to defenders then, tell me what value defenders have and then tell me what cap allocation should be. 3%-15%-80%??? 50 million in forwards? More/Less?? 2 million in goalies? What for defenders and WHY?

I want to know what the new GM should be aiming for. What are Feaster's targets and why since Sutter was ripped non-stop for his allocation of cap dollars in the back-end. The Flames have 56% invested in forwards... what do they need? 70%, 80%?

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