April 16 2012 01:17PM
"We have a very, very busy off-season ahead of us," said Feaster, adding that he didn't want to talk about individual players or members of the coaching staff at this point. "It's clear that we need to make changes. We're going to have to do a number of things in the off-season, because this is not a situation that I want to be in next year.” - Jay Feaster
A pretty bold and emphatic statement coming from the GM whilst bidding the Flames season adieu in front of local fans and media. Some will take what Jay said as an encouraging realization as to the changes that need to happen, while others will ignore them as hollow posturing. Those that look to the latter will say that it doesn’t matter what Feaster said that day, or any day this off-season because in the end, when Ken King and Murray Edwards speak, Jay Feaster listens.
Regardless of which side of the argument you support, one thing both can agree on is, what is Feaster’s identity with this organization?
THE GENERAL MANAGER
He was named acting GM on December 28th 2010, and then named full-time GM on May 16th 2011, but now that the regular season has concluded for the Calgary Flames, Jay Feaster can finally start acting like the true General Manager of this organization.
It is time for him to take this from Darryl’s team to his team.
Putting his stamp on the Flames isn’t going to be easy - he’s already under the microscope from many. In fact, most of those mentioned are already screaming for his head. Is it fair given the circumstances Feaster has had to operate under in his first year? Maybe not, but since when is life fair; and like the management likes to remind the fan base so often, it’s a business. With somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of revenue directly coming from the fan base, they believe they can say what they want, when they want, and have no problem naming themselves judge, jury and executioner.
If anything that should put the fans on common ground with Jay, since they are three roles he will have to familiarize himself with rather quickly. When he took “control” of this team, he wasn’t really tasked with having to deal with the roster in its whole, rather he did what he said was his best; mostly trying to keep the team functional and competitive when the injury spree hit.
Now it’s a different story.
Now the restraints have been removed and he is clear to do what he wants regarding ten UFA’s and six RFA’s, not to mention, about 18 million in cap space.
"I'll be sitting down with Ken King and ownership and I will be reviewing every player in the organization and every member of the hockey operation staff and I'll be making recommendations as it relates to players and staff and coaches." - Jay Feaster
A pretty common phrase heard amongst GM’s when their season has come to an end, but in regards to Feaster there are ambiguous implications. Does Jay tell King and the owners what direction he thinks the team should go in and then wait to see if he gets the go ahead, or permission as it were, to make said moves; because that’s what many of the fans, and those around the league seem to think.
”Of all the Canadian teams in the National Hockey League, I thinks it’s widely perceived that no ownership group, led by Murray Edwards and Ken King, have as much say in the direction the hockey operations department goes. All owners have some input in terms of how a General Manager goes about his business. But I would say that in Calgary, that emphasis is much greater from ownership than it is from the General Manager.”
- Bob Mackenzie (TSN)
Feaster has maintained that there is absolutely no unusual interference from the President or any member of ownership, which is great except for the fact that no one believes that statement to be true. I’m not saying Jay is lying to the public, but a half-truth sounds a lot better than him outright telling people he is not the decision maker when it comes to the team’s two largest factors - which is something the public would just never hear come from any GM.
What Feaster did tell the media is that he has never brought a deal forward that has been blocked by either King or ownership. What exactly does that mean Jay? If you make these claims absolving ownership, then why are there so many reputable sources saying otherwise? Are they all lying? Maybe Jay isn’t lying at all, perhaps no deal has ever been blocked because Jay has never mentioned the idea of trading Iginla or Kiprusoff to the owners. By that notion, then no there has not been any interference because that limitation has yet to be tested.
PUT YOUR MARK ON IT!
Putting the numbers aside, what I am most anxious to see this off-season is what kind of man is Jay Feaster? As a lawyer he is very good with words and he is very easy to listen to when he stands up on his pulpit and makes his address to the masses.
What I’m hoping is that he is not just selling the fans a line because as of now we have seen both sides of the coin and so far neither one has been a winner. What I mean is that we all saw the man who with bold and ill-advised confidence guarantee a playoff appearance from this team, we have seen the rant on national television guaranteeing that if things didn’t shape up within games that there were drastic changes coming. Unforunately, neither one of those things happened. We also saw a dismayed and contrite man that shouldered the entire blame for not having those guarantees fulfilled, and with that the admission of failure and a realization that they need to explore other avenues.
Brent Sutter realized that necessity immediately, and was fired for his epiphany. "If a decision is made that they want Brent Sutter to come back as coach, I will do some things different because I believe in that," Sutter said. "It might not be pleasant and it might upset some people, but I think it's at that point where there really has to be an awareness about where we're at and where we're going and how we're going to get there." That doesn’t evoke a lot of confidence for those fans that hope the Flames are finally ready to make a serious change.
If the owners live under the stigma of being happy as long as they are making money, then what makes Feaster happy? After being out of hockey for two years is he happy just to have a job or does he really want to that feeling back that he had with Tampa Bay in 2004, when he was part of a championship? His words make me lean towards the latter, but actions speak louder than words and so far they lean to the former.
Does Jay Feaster have it in him to finally test the last two limitations that are preventing him from putting his stamp on this team? Is he going to play it safe and be content in collecting his paycheck, or does he have the spine to go to ownership and tell them exactly how it is and why it is time for this team to move on in terms of Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff? I don’t want a GM that is going to mention in it in session where they are just spit-balling ideas either. He said he was going to sit with them and review every player and make recommendations, so do just that.
If the man is afraid of speaking his mind in fear of losing his job, then any sense of pride should have him resign immediately and just let King run this team in the open, but if he truly wants to see this team accomplish something and not have to go through this whole song and dance next year, then he will fight to put his mark on this organization and he will do it.
That is of course provided he even wants to turn this team around...