April 30 2011 05:37PM
(Hi, I'm starting a new column here at FlamesNation. It won't always be on Saturdays. Bye.)
Ah, to be Jay Feaster.
At this point, all signs point to — and logic pretty much dictates — that Feaster will be named the team's full-time real live general manager within the next little while.
But the thing I'm wondering is, y'know, when, and why?
Being in the right place at the right time has its advantages, I suppose. That Feaster was taken on as the Flames' assistant GM just months before Darryl Sutter, ahem, "stepped down," was not unlike the captain of the Titanic naming a new first mate about halfway across the Atlantic.
Sutter was never not going to get fired, as you could have expected it either this season or this summer given the team he assembled. Whatever Feaster's role was under him (one assumes it had a lot to do with hand-holding), it only made sense that he serve as acting GM. After all, he'd won a Stanley Cup.
But, of course, that's because he has a history of being the guy behind the guy who gets the guillotine. He was given the keys to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the winter of 2002, and led them to a Cup just over two seasons later. Impressive stuff, right? Not so much when you consider that the 2001-02 Lightning already had 18 of the players from the Cup-winning team in place, including the starting goalie and eight of what would become its top 10 scorers (Cory Stillman and Ruslan Fedotenko were the only notable additions in the intervening time, unless you want to count the '04 deadline acquisition of Darryl Sydor, and I don't).
So in theory at least, it made sense to let him have the reins for a few months and then reassess once the team inevitably missed the playoffs. But now the weeks since the season ended has stretched to nearly a month, and you'd have thought that, by now, we'd have heard something.
But the only ghost of a hint we've heard came in a Calgary Herald interview on April 19: "[W]e’ll make our ultimate and final decision . . . I would say probably in the next two or three weeks." So, as I write this on April 30, the sands in top of the hourglass are really starting to run out.
This is a Canadian team, after all. And there's nothing the hyper-investigative media like the good folks at TSN and the various local media outlets enjoy more than ferretting out coaching and front office changes for Canadian teams. And have you heard ONE name besides Feaster's even casually mentioned as a possibility from anyone reliable? Hell, even anyone unreliable? There's been absolutely nothing in the way of talk that some front office wonk from a franchise with a strong history of player evaluation — the Penguins or Predators or Red Wings, for example — being considered.
So maybe they're waiting for Feaster to issue his final report on the state of the franchise. But it's pretty easy to guess that, in general, the report will read, "The core is old, the contracts are awful and the cupboard is bare." That won't be on him. It'll be on stupid ol' Darryl. And Feaster's already had a year of working within the organization, basically measuring Darryl's office for drapes, then moving in seamlessly.
So Jay Feaster is the prohibitive favorite to become the full-time guy, right? So why wait to say so? What purpose does it serve? Are they waiting for the entry draft (and don't even start bringing up Feaster's Sutterian drafting record)? There can't be, at this point, any sense of trepidation, can there?
If they're trusting him to conduct the internal audit, they have to be comfortable enough with him going forward, and he's certainly not going to say, "Having looked at the franchise's situation, I've decided to run screaming from all stewardship of it."
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they have a couple guys they'd like to talk to, but have not done so yet for… well, whatever reason. One or two of several candidates' teams could still be in the playoffs, or the Flames haven't gotten official permission from another franchise, or whatever.
But again, someone, with some news outlet, would have heard SOMETHING by now, and hurriedly scooped the world with the info. So it's far more likely that Ken King and Co. have their guy in mind, and under contract.
It would be nice, but a little surprising, if the Flames named Feaster or indeed any other candidate (and again: it's not going to be anyone but Feaster) to the official GM role before the playoffs ended. After all, it's not like they have a coach to re-sign.
- Radek Martinek was hospitalized with a spine injury and concussion while playing at the World Championships because he was hit illegally by a borderline NHLer in the Atlanta system. Someone really has to step in and do something about this whole situation, because it's getting insane. The NHL and IIHF need to get together and come up with a comprehensive way to protect players from head injuries in all countries and competitions, at all competitive levels.
- Where the hell did Steve Downie come from? Two goals and nine points in seven games, and a plus-7 because he's done almost all his scoring at even strength. People are legitimately talking about STEVE DOWNIE as a Conn Smythe candidate, seemingly out of nowhere. Why, it's almost like he blindsided us. And left his feet.
- Hey the Flyers just got clubbed 7-3 by the Bruins in the first game of their playoff series. Brian Boucher gave up five of those. Sergei Bobrovsky gave up the other two. Doesn't it seem like, at some point, people are going to act like the Flyers don't stand a real chance in this series? They barely got by Buffalo, and Buffalo was terrible this year.
- Speaking of teams that don't have a chance at escaping the second round: Congrats to Nashville on making the second round. They'll be quite lucky if they don't get swept.