Whither Feaster?


As the team prepares to return to it’s normal game routine tomorrow, we’ll nevertheless continue to ruminate on the future of the franchise post-Sutter around here.*

*never fear, we will indeed continue to do the gameday stuff as well.

The topic of Feaster and his ostensible role as "interim" GM came up immediately when I appeared on Jason Gregor’s radio show the other day. Gregor asked me why the Flames would install Feaster as a manager, but burden him with trying to turn the franchise around without the full responsibilities – and requisite powers – of an NHL general manager. I didn’t have an adequate answer.

I thought about it some today and my conclusions are half summarized by walk invisible in her most recent post:

feaster wasn’t handed the title of GM outright because the org has earmarked someone else (who needs to concede his current position with another club before joining the flaming C’s).

i came to this theory because i just can’t get past why the executive/owners wouldn’t hand feaster the reins entirely, unless there’s something else at play, here.

That sounds about right. As Robert reveals below, there’s a number of other, qualified candidates still employed with other teams around the league. The money men may have Feaster mind the store while they wait to send out offers to their real targets this off-season. His mission will be to simply not to crash this thing into an ice-berg (well…moreso) in the interirm.

In fact, this may have been the reason Feaster was hired in the first place. I can imagine this summer when King was pleading for a stay of execution for Darryl that the ownership agreed, but with conditions – one being the Jay Feaster safety valve, which would give them the option of axing Sutter in the middle of the year and not leaving the org without an experienced exec in his stead.

Afterall, after Sutter and absent Feaster, there really wasn’t another hockey guy left in the franchise hierarchy capable of handling the GM duties, even for a brief period. As he’s reminded us a number of times, Ken King isn’t a "hockey guy".

The other half of the equation is: what happens to Feaster? It wouldn’t surprise me if he was earmarked for another position in the org once the powers-that-be find their long-term replacement. I’ve been tough on Feaster around these parts more than once, but the truth is he has a decent enough resume and possesses a skill-set that isn’t typical of the usual ex-hockey players types that populate NHL front offices.

A lawyer with experience negotating contracts can be a useful animal to have. In fact, it’s possible he’d be the guy to take over a certain position (rhymes with "resident") once a purging fire sweeps through the Flames offices this coming summer (something I consider an inevitability. Darryl Sutter’s influence permeates the franchise from top-to-bottom and the next guy is going to air the place out, so to speak).

Obviously we’re reading tea leaves here and trying to forecast the future is a bit of a fools errand.

Still, it’s what we as hockey fans do all the time, so what the hell…

  • Robert Cleave

    I’d be a lot more sanguine with Feaster in an exec role where he wasn’t the last word on personnel, frankly. Whether he’d be better than King at managing the franchise as a financial entity is an open question, obviously, but Feaster plus a new hockey-oriented GM would certainly represent a culture change.

    • Me too, which is maybe why I came up with this hypothetical. More hope than analysis perhaps.

      And Feaster was apparently the President of the Hershey Bears for a few years in his former life. Assuming the two roles are similar in more than just title, it means he has experience in that capacity as well.

      • Your hypothetical may be closer to reality than we know. King is very cerebral. Perhaps he not only chose his successor but darryll’s executioner in one fall swoop.A golden parachute must be nearby.A spring cleanup is well overdo, perhaps an exodus will be afoot.

      • Grumpy

        Nice write up Kent. Just by the way everyone has gone about things “including Brent”, it appears as if letting D.Sutter go was preplanned.

        Darryl and KK may have been in on this the whole transition process with Feaster from the beginning Feaster was hired. Even KK’s comments that he let Daryl go just seemed like something he and D.Sutter had agreed to say.

        I got the impression as of late for the way D.Sutter has been taking a hands on approach to trades, handing out our 2 and 3rds that he really didn’t follow a process or rely on solid building blocks. At some point did he start building his sandcastle by hand? I have long suspected that certain players influenced some of D.Sutter’s decisions whether it was was hiring coaches or trading certain players. It seemed as though Darryl got lazy with certain aspects of the job and started to follow his own mandate. He is like a gambler who knows how to play the game but after a few drinks starts to get careless.

        Feaster mentioned that there is a certain way that the organization needs to be run from the top down through the owners, management, coaches to the players. This way no one is overstepping and everyone has a job to do. No wishy washy plans but instead an actual blueprint with some solid bricks.

  • mikeecho

    They may decide to put Feaster into the Executive Vice President role that Daryl also vacated and hire a new GM.

    Despite what Feaster says, I have no doubt that he was hired by King/Owners (as opposed to Daryl) and that may be a bit of a pay back for being a good soldier and minding the shop while they get another GM.

  • Jason Gregor


    Interesting scenario. It might be true, but I think Feaster will get the job, unless if he wants to make some moves this year and gets vetoed by the owners. If they veto him, I think he’ll walk away.

    I wonder if Flames didn’t want to make it seem like Sutter was dead man walking ever since Feaster was hired, so they are trying to make it look like they haven’t made up their mind. I’ve been told Feaster was hired by the owners in the summer, which would make me think he’ll get the GM tag at some point.

    • That’s entirely possible Jason and if he’s crowned the new GM for good at some point it wouldn’t surprise me. The only thing that has led to this speculation is this stuff about him being the “acting, interim” GM. It’s hard for me to imagine the owners doing this dance in order to hide prior motivations, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true, I guess.

      • Greg

        The “interim” or “acting” tag might be on the shingle until Darryl is finished cleaning out the desk and packing the office Flames cardboard box with his belongings.

  • everton fc

    Perhaps he’s “interim” because King is next to go?

    Everyone here wants change. Complete change. A clean slate.

    We need new blood. A fresh approach. Excitement in the Dome, once again.

    To me, Feaster’s old hat. Nothing new. “Been there, done that.” Not exciting, in the least.

    Perhaps he can take that executive role. Now. We need a fresh face. Now. Someone who has been waiting for their chance. Someone long-term.

    Can the team approach McNab or Hextall now, or do they have to wait until the season ends? Cause if we wait, we are stuck with Feaster next season.

    (Someone mentioned Lanny to replace King. Interesting concept. Could work.)

  • if what you say about feaster is true, perhaps he’d be a good replacement for michael holditch (who, as the team “capologist” is directly responsible for the short-bench fiasco to end 08/09, and should also go when the flames clean house). let him deal with money and contracts, and let a REAL hockey guy deal with players.

    i still wonder if michel goulet doesn’t get some kind of massive promotion.

  • the-wolf

    Kent, interesting theory and makes sense on a few levels. First, to his credit, Feaster has gone on record many times and shown in the past that he will surround himself with hockey people. Bill Barber, to use his favorite example. No comment on Bill himself, it’s the effort I’m getting at here. So I could see King being moved over to run business operations only. Go sell jerseys and schmooze corporations all you want, just stay away from anything resembling a hockey decision and take your well-worn “I’ll approve anything Darryl wants because he’s a hockey god” rubber stamp with you. Feaster becomes President of Hockey Ops to oversee the overall hockey management structure/new philosophy side of the team as well as to do contracts and make sure everyone in the organization is open and communicating, the left hand knows what the right hand is doing kind-of-thing, etc. A GM is hired with proper hockey know-how and given a lot of free reign to do his thing – make trades and evaluate talent. Feaster has just enough hockey ability to be there in case the new GM goes as insane as the previous one.

  • I was thinking Feaster is “acting” GM for now because Ken King will be let go either at season’s end, or some time after the outdoor game he put together, and that the new Pres will decide who the next GM is.

    So, when Bob Nicholson takes over King’s job, he’ll decide if Feaster is a part of the new management team.

    And as I’ve said before, if Feaster does indeed get the gig full time, I believe Michel Goulet will serve as his Assistant GM and be the go-to hockey guy, while the head coach (Brent or otherwise) will serve as the Director of Player Personnel and be the 3rd head of the management monster.

  • I have heard many people on here commenting that the new GM must have free reign to do whatever he wishes.

    Now isn’t this what we had in Darryl? Maybe having Feaster as an interim, the owners are hoping to have a GM that they can control a bit more, and not give that free reign anymore? Afterall, they were paying Warrener and Erickson not to play for a large sum of money, as well as three head coaches on payroll. Maybe they are tired of throwing away money, and they are testing out Feaster to see if they can control him more.

    Not sure thats the best plan, but it makes sense to me, why they are holding the interim tag on the new GM.

  • Graham

    I think we will determine fairly quickly if Feater is a temp or full time GM. If Feaster is just a caretaker, we will not see any lineup changes or moves… If Feaster is more than just a caretaker we will start to see some lineup changes etc fairly quickly. A fill in GM is not going to make any major moves that could impact on the new GM’s vision.

    Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Feaster ship down some of the surplus bodies to the farm…


    Interesting read Kent.

    Wouldn’t surprise me in the least that the flames have targeted a GM that is currently with another organization and Feaster will eventually find a new home within the organization. Although I’d be skeptical it would be President however. Knowing how things work in this City if King is to be replaced, it will be with a ‘Good Ol’ Boy’ (ie: someone with significant roots within this town). I would agree with WI, Feaster will find himself in the Mike Holditch position or exec VP, or both.

    in the interm, I would expect Feaster to mind the fort. If the Flames are, ahem, out of it by the deadline expect them to peddle off the likes of Hagman, Glencross, Moss for an assortment of 2nd and 3rd rounders (Feaster pretty much went on the record to say as much just the other day). As for the big moves Iggy, Reggie, Bouwmeester, and Kipper. Those decisions will probably be made during this summer, unless one of them actually goes to management and says ‘Get me out of here, I’m done.’ But I don’t see that happening. All have young families (except Bouw?) and I’m fairly sure they want to see how all this shakes out. In fact they probably already know anyway.