Contrarian Corner: I've got a bad feeling about this

Ryan Lambert
May 18 2011 07:10PM

 

 

Jay Feaster has never proven himself to be a good general manager. So why on earth would he start now?

So the other day the Flames cut the "interim" tag off Jay Feaster's role as general manager, allowing him to skip from the store delighted at having a brand new franchise to run into the ground. Not like there was anyone in hockey who didn't see the move coming — and even if they somehow missed it in the first few months, his getting a crack at re-signing Curtis Glencross (more on that later) was the nail in the coffin on anyone else even being considered for the gig in passing.

First, let's be honest: there is almost nothing good going on down in the Flames organization these days. Almost everyone is old, almost all of those old guys are overpaid, almost all of those overpaid guys have no-movement clauses. It's a bad jumping-off point. In addition, there's almost no one on the farm that is expected to make a half-decent impact at the NHL level in the near future if at all. 

None of that, of course, is Feaster's fault. But he sure as hell isn't going to help anything.

The Permanent Record

Feaster has three things on his resume that must be considered to determine whether he is the right guy for the job (and of course, it's moot at this point):

1. He has a remarkably poor drafting record.

Let's put it this way: Jay Feaster has a worse drafting record than Darryl Sutter. That, obviously, is saying something. Then it's saying it again, then getting out a megaphone and shouting it, then skywriting it over the Grand Canyon.

He was GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2002-08, and was in charge of all those drafts. During that time, he drafted 62 players. One has played more than 250 NHL games — Paul Ranger — and he's no longer in the league. Now, yes, he drafted Steven Stamkos, but anyone on the planet including my dog (who is very stupid not only for an NHL general manager but also for a beagle). After Stamkos, the most successful guy Feaster ever drafted is... wait for it......... Mike Lundin. A second-pairing defenseman who was chosen in the fourth round of the 2004 entry draft.

And hey, remember that deep-as-an-ocean '03 draft? Every guy in the first round has made the NHL, all that stuff? Yeah, Feaster took 11 guys that year. The most successful is Nick Tarnasky, who is also out of the league.

Overall, he took nine players in the first and second rounds of seven entry drafts, indicating that he often used high picks as bargaining chips (which itself is troubling given the team's current position of being completely bereft of impact talent at the AHL or junior level). Of those nine players, two are still in the league, and the one that isn't Stamkos is Matt "122 career games in parts of four seasons" Smaby.

So Smaby this isn't a guy you want in charge of a team that will need a serious rebuild and overhaul of the farm system.

2. He has a remarkably baffling free agent-signing record.

Let's start at the very beginning of Feaster's tenure as GM in Tampa, when he seemed to catch Lightning in a bottle on the trade front. He made two semi-notable acquisitions that summer, both before the draft.

The day before the 2002 draft, he traded Tampa's first-round pick (No. 4 overall, used to select Joni Pitkanen) Ruslan Fedotenko and two second-round picks to Philly. Fedotenko was a key cog in the 2004 Cup champions, but neither of those draft picks amounted to much of anything. The second transaction was swapping another second-rounder for Brad Lukowich, a decent player for the '04 team. The same is true of when he traded a second-round pick (used by St. Louis to pick David Backes) for Cory Stillman.

However, he didn't make his first big swoop for a free agent until the following summer when he acquired Eric Perrin. That's right. The first free agent who was not restricted to re-up with the team that Feaster signed was Marty St. Louis's college buddy. The next summer, his one unrestricted free agent signing was Craig Darby. Later, he would add players like Andy Delmore, Filip Kuba and Doug Janik. A few other two-way deals 

Underwhelming and infrequent signings seem to be Feaster's speciality, and the trades are usually on a similar footing. Maybe the purse strings were a little too tight in Tampa for him to make splashier deals, but at the same time, I don't know if you want a guy who has never wrangled an unrestricted free agent more noteworthy than Filip Kuba being in charge of a real live National Hockey League team that spends money.

3. He won a Stanley Cup and has been standing around with his hands in his pockets for a year.

This is, obviously, the only thing considered by Ken King and whoever else considered this fiasco.

"A STANLEY CUP! RIGHT IN CALGARY'S FACE, REMEMBER?"

Yes, I do remember, and apart from the small handful of players he traded a four years' worth of second-round picks for, he was responsible for signing almost none of it.

But I saw where even someone as respectable as Elliotte Friedman said Feaster was the right guy for the job because the team played better under him than it did Darryl Sutter, and I just about spit out the moutful of cereal I was chewing at the time. The team played better under Feaster because it was playing under not-Sutter. It could have been Feaster or you or my beagle (who will be 11 on June 6). As long as any of those mammals weren't calling down to ice level and saying, "Oh jeez ya know Brent I think maybe Bouwmeester should be paired with Staios," every 20 minutes, the team was bound to be appreciably better.

Sutter created a toxic environment for the club — of this there can be no disputing — and Feaster didn't fly in to clean it up like Super Mario Sunshine. He just looked at the goopy brown stuff all over the organization and opted not to add to it.

The crossing of the Rubicon

So they hired Feaster, sword drawn, die cast. Again, we all knew they would.

And what was his first act as Real GM? He looked at a roster loaded with overpaid players with contracts that would take them deep into their 30s, many of which included no-trade, modified no-trade or straight up no-movement clauses, and said, "This is a problem."

To rectify it, he signed Curtis Glencross to a contract that would keep him with the club into his early 30s and gave him a no-movement clause (by my count, the 10th on a team with a maximum roster size of 23 players). This madness is somewhat mitigated, people say, by the fact that it's an AFFORDABLE four-year deal with a no-movement clause.

Maybe they're right. By the end of his four year deal as GM — and I'd bet a boatload of money he doesn't make it that long — Feaster might be merely signing 24-year-olds (though he sure as hell won't get them through the draft!) to four-year deals for decent money and those no-trade clauses that allow them to pick any 10 teams to which they refuse to be shipped.

And nightmarishly, that would actually be a huge improvement over the last guy.

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 Kent Wilson
May 18 2011, 07:50PM
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And people thought I was tough on Feaster.

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#2 44stampede
May 18 2011, 08:51PM
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Ryan, you did the best job of summing up what I think of this crap move by this organization. I really hope that Beast-er proves us wrong but unless he morphs into a totally different person or becomes possessed with the ghost of Sam Pollock, I don't see it.

I still don't think that any one of the higher ups actually read his articles in THN when he contributed there. Scary that this is the guy running the show...

http://www.thehockeynews.com/listings/119-Jay-Feasters-Blog.html

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#3 Bob
May 18 2011, 09:39PM
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As I've stated before, I am willing to wait and see. Let's be honest, what else can we do? I still question whether we have the right people around him at this time? No offense to Connie, but I'm referring to guys like Holditch (twice in past 3 seasons we couldn't add to roster to replace the injured due to being at the cap) and Burke and those that were supposed to be holding Darryl's coffee and bagel the previous 8 seasons.

But, it's a month 'til the draft and who else were we going to get who is willing to clean up Sutter's mess...or at the very least try and sweep it under the rug?

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#4 Nolan
May 18 2011, 10:02PM
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Well said. It's same ole, same ole. Feaster has proven nothing in the past that he is a good GM. The Flames needed a GM with different thoughts, not business as usual. I think this goes down to ownership/top management not wanting to change things and take the easy road.

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#5 MC Hockey
May 18 2011, 10:32PM
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Sorry cannot agree with your comments Ryan. Simplu put, the questionable and bad moves by Feaster are overstated and the good ones are underrated. And yes, it's likely in Tampa he was restricted on what he could spend so that was a factor, in Calgary that's not an issue with these owners. So, move on and cheer him. Here's some truth: If he can clear a lot of cap space of perhaps $8M (by trading Sarich who has NMC and Kostopoulo for draft picks and buyout or bury few guys like Kotalik, Hagman, Ivanans), he can actually be able to re-sign Tanguay, Babchuk, Pardy, Carson, and Morrison and even add a few UFA guys like Ville Leino and Patrick Eaves at decent contract values. I did the math, it works!

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#6 Vintage Flame
May 19 2011, 10:20AM
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It's funny because most people are so disenchanted with the Flames during the Sutter era, that the post-Sutter era is going to be a disaster and abomination, regardless of who is at the helm. The team is going nowhere, they have no Cap room, they're too old, they have no identity.. blah, blah, blah.. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah, and they have nothing in the Farm!

We wonder around here why the trolls come trolling, simply put? We feed them. It's like leaving all your food around the campsite and not expecting bears to come around.

Do we have too many NMC's on the books, yeah, no one is arguing that. Does that automatically mean that GlenX's NMC is a bad decision, no. It's a decent contract and Glencross made a commitment to the Flames by not exploring free agency, and we ALL know he would have gotten more on the open market, for the same term, and yeah probably still the NMC.

As for Jay's role as the now entrenched GM, well personally I couldn't care less what he did in Tampa, I care what he does here, and so far, that is STILL a wait and see position. Let's see what he and Goluet and Button [ack] do in THIS draft. If he bombs HERE, then we can burn him in effigy.

I like what mchockey said with, "it's likely in Tampa he was restricted on what he could spend so that was a factor, in Calgary that's not an issue with these owners. So, move on and cheer him." This team has shown this City that it can win with what they have, and they can do it for an extended period, not just here and there.

I'm not saying the team doesn't need to make changes either. I have said here many times that I think Regehr is gone and I've come around to the idea of Kipper as well. That frees up a lot of money, and if we can dump Kotalik, Hagman and Stajan, than this team is not in bad shape at all.

As always... just my opinion though.

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#7 the-wolf
May 19 2011, 11:01AM
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The Glencross signing was necessary in order to stay on the road they're on - trying to scratch into the playoffs and hope for a miracle run while there are still deluded fans out there who think that 2004 in some kind of repeatbale experiment.

Feaster is what the owners want. Win now, don't rock the boat, better personality with the media than Darryl.

Will he turn this team into a true contender that has an honest shot of actually going all the way every year? Of course not, but that's not what the owners want. Just fill the seats baby! And pay $6.50 for a Coke and $14.00 for parking and buy your $130 jersey and shut the hell up!

Where have you gone Cliff Fletcher?

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#8 Bob
May 19 2011, 12:05PM
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the-wolf wrote:

The Glencross signing was necessary in order to stay on the road they're on - trying to scratch into the playoffs and hope for a miracle run while there are still deluded fans out there who think that 2004 in some kind of repeatbale experiment.

Feaster is what the owners want. Win now, don't rock the boat, better personality with the media than Darryl.

Will he turn this team into a true contender that has an honest shot of actually going all the way every year? Of course not, but that's not what the owners want. Just fill the seats baby! And pay $6.50 for a Coke and $14.00 for parking and buy your $130 jersey and shut the hell up!

Where have you gone Cliff Fletcher?

You forgot the $10 watered down beer! Can't blame the Flames much for the parking...that's the Stampede board's decision.

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#9 Michael
May 19 2011, 12:57PM
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The Feaster hiring was a status quo move, designed not to rock Ken Kings fantasy that this club is close to making the playoffs.

Yes, hockey is a business, but this club simply does not have the right balance between business and hockey. For a Cdn team you either have to sell 'future' (Edmonton) or we are good enough for a run at the cup (Vancouver), selling middle of the road (we may make the playoffs) simply will not sell longer term.

Having a profitable team (is good) and it keeps Ken King in a job, but if we continue as a 9 - 12th place team, apathy will start to set in.

This team needs a new vision, new hope, new blood and a new President. You can almost forget who the GM is, the GM merely executes the vision set by King.

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#10 the-wolf
May 19 2011, 02:25PM
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Michael wrote:

The Feaster hiring was a status quo move, designed not to rock Ken Kings fantasy that this club is close to making the playoffs.

Yes, hockey is a business, but this club simply does not have the right balance between business and hockey. For a Cdn team you either have to sell 'future' (Edmonton) or we are good enough for a run at the cup (Vancouver), selling middle of the road (we may make the playoffs) simply will not sell longer term.

Having a profitable team (is good) and it keeps Ken King in a job, but if we continue as a 9 - 12th place team, apathy will start to set in.

This team needs a new vision, new hope, new blood and a new President. You can almost forget who the GM is, the GM merely executes the vision set by King.

And King that of the owners.

Who always seem to get off the hook, at least as far the mainstream media are concerned.

How about it Kent? How about an honest in-depth look at Flames ownership. Not sure where you'd start per se, but the buck stops with them and I'm tired of them skulking in the shadows and being coated in teflon. King is just a front-man.

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#11 Luc
May 21 2011, 03:33PM
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Michael wrote:

The Feaster hiring was a status quo move, designed not to rock Ken Kings fantasy that this club is close to making the playoffs.

Yes, hockey is a business, but this club simply does not have the right balance between business and hockey. For a Cdn team you either have to sell 'future' (Edmonton) or we are good enough for a run at the cup (Vancouver), selling middle of the road (we may make the playoffs) simply will not sell longer term.

Having a profitable team (is good) and it keeps Ken King in a job, but if we continue as a 9 - 12th place team, apathy will start to set in.

This team needs a new vision, new hope, new blood and a new President. You can almost forget who the GM is, the GM merely executes the vision set by King.

UGH!! ok so yea we are in shi**y position and WE ALL KNOW IT!! but quit being such babies about ownership!! at least they want to win!! a lot of teams dont even have ownership right now and we all see how that is a gong show. This ownership group is willing to spend to win. even pay LARGE contracts in the minors just so we can releive some cap room. If you dont like the product then go away and stop watching. Im like vintage in my opinion... we can be upset and hate and all that and if the product continues down this path, we may need to send message by not buying tickets, HOWEVER i am a fan right now and i dont think the team sucks something awful. feaster will do what he can and lets just be happy that he is as well spoken as he is and not a rock mouth murmurmer like sutter. Get over it. we are were we are and im still goin to watch because at the end of the day, this is fun , dramatic, unknown times. so have fun

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