VOICE OF THE NATION – The Feaster Identity

 

"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…

  • @everton fc

    Feaster never should have been hired in the first place. The moment I saw the press release he was hired as AGM, I was like “uh-oh, this is no bueno”. He was desperate for a job considering he had no traction in the 2+ years since TB let him go, so imo he came on under the condition he follow orders from above (ie King and/or Edwards) and that’s what he’s doing. It’s for this reason Daz was canned and that’s why it was Butter to go and not Feaster (and also probably why Iron Mike was fired). Those who put up the less resistance to Big Brother will survive. It’s power politics at play unfortunately and in those instances hockey decisions do not reign. A guy like Feaster was lucky he ever had a GM job in the first place (ditto to Weisbrod w/ the Orlando Magic btw); he’s better suited in the radio booth or the TV studio like another guy who should have never had a hockey ops job, Mike Milbury.

  • @Rex: See Rex, that is why you just cant put a trade return for a complicated player like Iginla because this guy has many different trade values to different teams. I agree, Iggy for the Oilers #1 is ludicrous. Oilers are just not a trade partner. The only one they may want to target, & dont laugh, would be JBO & I dont even want to get into returns, obviously the 1st overall is not even in the discussion. Iggy will have significantly higher value to the right trade partner & that should be Feasters job to find out who & what that return is. Yourself & other Oiler fans share opinions on our trade expectations as Flames fans but from a point of view that is sckewed with what the Oilers would do or even would want the player period. I think it’s pretty obvious that if its a late 1st rounder and marginal prospect, the Flames will probably find more value in keeping Iggy & find a coach that knows how to properly utilize a player like him. Obviously Brent Sutter couldnt figure it out in 3 years. If the return is like Torontos 5th overall & take your pick of Kadri or Schenn “if by chance Burke is desperate enough & Iggy agrees to go”, big if’s, a package like that has to be considered & deemed worthwhile making this bold move. Too many people on this site either overvalue or under value him, there is just no set value on this issue. That is probably why Feaster couldnt assure Brent Iggy would be just jettisoned out this summer. That right return may take until the 2013 trade deadline.

  • DieHard

    OK, yes I’m an Oiler fan but I don’t hate Calgary. Best case is trade Kipper this summer for some good assets, keep Iggy until trade deadline and if you’re out of it (could be close to lottery) see if he wants to go to a contender for a cup run. A contender could use Iggy’s grit and strength for a run and would give a first and a good prospect. It would also be with the understanding that he would be welcome back with 1 year contracts with bonuses until he hangs ’em up. You never know you may be in the running for Mackinnon (sp) next year. Just a thought.

    • Vintage Flame

      I think you are right in believing Iggy’s best value comes at the trade deadline, but there are two things that still concern me in that regard.

      1.) As much as I love Iggy and hope someday to see him retire as a Flame, holding onto him for basically another year is a gamble I don’t think the Flames can afford. There are just too many variables that could derail the whole scenario.

      A.] What if Iggy gets hurt during the season and the Flames are unable to trade him, we all know the issues he had with the back last season.

      B.] What if Iggy has a really bad year. When a player has 11 straight 30+ goal seasons and then in season 12 when teams know the Flames are looking to deal him but he is sitting somewhere around the 10 goal mark, how much does his value then plummet. Of course this can be off-set by what if he has a great year, but I’m not banking on that likelihood.

      2.) I’m not sure as to why it has to be a one or the other when it comes to dealing Iggy and/or Kipper. Wouldn’t logic dictate that if you trade one, you might as well deal the other because in both cases you are writing off a franchise player and perhaps that season. So what is it you are trying to salvage at that point.

      I said before the Flames can’t look at this with one foot in the pool. If you deal one or the other you are basically in it for the long haul and you might as well jump in the deep end full boar.

  • DieHard

    Hate to say it Diehard (I loved the first 2 movies, the rest of them, meh) but I think we are headed that way but it wouldnt be such a bad thing for Flames fans & ownership. Once the decision is made that we are about to move on from the last bastion of the Iggy/Kipper era, well I guess you just have to cross the bridges as you get there. I sure the Oil didnt want to have the 1st overall this year but oh well, you’re there & just embrace it & move forward.

    • DieHard

      What part didn’t you like: the part where Iggy comes back? Because it’s the only other part. The lottery part is not a hockey decision its just what may or may not happen. Will be a very interesting summer for both teams.

  • supra steve

    Kevin R

    Agree with most of what you are saying, but… I would think if Toronto wanted to move up to the first pick in this summer’s draft they would dangle something like their #5 and Kadri or Schenn (or both?). We have agreement that Iggy isn’t worth the #1 pick, so I would suggest he is not worth #5 plus one of those 2 youngsters either. But, you never know.

  • supra steve

    @Steve: Yeah, using Toronto for Iggy was a bad example after I hit post comment. If I put Kipper in there instead, maybe Burke is desperate enough if he’s feeling enough pressure. But I was just trying to show hypothetically what might sway Feaster to pulling the trigger on an Iggy trade. It must be an impressive offer for him to do it.

    @Diehard: If we trade Iggy to a contender to persue a cup, chances are the retire contract wont be for about 3 years. If Iggy & Kipper are responsible for 25% of our wins & the new guys only get about 10% back, then we will be lottery picking.

  • MC Hockey

    Well aren’t we all experts when it comes to shooting down my Iggy + something for the #1 overall pick? …. have you looked at which players are more consistent over the past 3 to 5 years in scoring vs Iggy (maybe 3-5 guys) and all the “big stars” he outscores every year (check the basic G+A). I’ve heard sillier things on here than my idea and Edmonton could use him to score with the young guys and sell tonnes and tonnes of tickets and merchandise (it’s a business after all)….but anyhoooo… What’s the chance we can run a open thread about “what can we get for Iggy” and see what other ideas we get? Here’s a few ideas for Iggy trades based on teams who may want is veteran reliability to improve to make playoffs or go much deeper (so ideas depend on playofffs in part)? Also keeping I. Ind Flames less likely to trade him in the West in reality.
    1) To Phil for Couterier Or Schenn (perhaps with other players each way to balance salaries) so they go further in playoffs next year
    2) To NYR with another player for two of Stepan, Boyle, Zuccarello, Hagelin, or a d-man (but not Erixon) to put them deeper in next year playoffs
    3) To Dal for Glennie
    4) To NYI with 3rd rounder for Neiderreiter or for Okposo and F Neilsen so they get closer to playoffs
    5) To Pit with 2nd rounder for J Staal and 4th rounder

      • Reidja

        Nobody has facts… Of course. But save this thread, and come back next trade deadline when Iggy is being traded to a contender for their 1st (late rounder) and a middling prospect. Thats what you get for an old guy with a few years left in his career.

        I’m not trying to undervalue Iggy, and I don’t necessarily think the problem is that people overvalue Iggy as much as they undervalue younger talent. Teams just don’t part with emerging young talent. Thats what we need. We all want to short circuit the draft and develop stage, and trade Iggy for a player that has been brought along by another team and is ready to be great for 10+ years. That is the problem.

        If you want to think up realistic trades, you need to start looking for older guys or really young, raw, undeveloped (and not top 5 picks). No team is going to trade their top propsects that they worked so hard to earn, then developed and are just ready to emerge. Its a nice dream for us, but its just not gonna happen.

        The BEST return we will get will be high draft picks. Which won’t help us for many years. BTW I also agree with Vintage Flame. Why trade Iggy but not Kipper? Trade them both. For picks. Then buckle up for 5 years of pure suck.

  • supra steve

    @Mchockey

    If I were looking at trading for Iggy, I would be less swayed by what he has done in the last 5 years then what I project from him over the next 5. The time to swap Iggy for Schenn was last year. Why would anyone trade Schenn or Couturier for a 35 year old Iginla? They could both potentially score more points then Iggy within the next 2 years. Both could also lift the cup this year if the Flyers keep flying.

    • MC Hockey

      See http://forecaster.thehockeynews.com/hockeynews/hockey/ft.cgi?scan for the following facts about Iggy:
      a. One of only 8 forwards to play all 246 games in past 3 years
      b. 6th in goals I last 3 yrs ( ok so 5 guys ahead of him)
      c. 13th I points over last 3 years
      d. 13th in Shots over past 3 years
      e. 10th in PP goals over past 3 years
      f. Iggy’s known to be in good shape (like a much younger player) so with actual talent on his line (i.e.not with Flames) he will could easily Schenn, Couterier, and many other for the next 3-4 years

  • supra steve

    I agree with you, people are wayyyyyyyyyyyyy over-valueing Iggy. 1st round pick+roster player, that’s it. But honestly I don’t see Schenn or Couturier getting more points then Iggy next year.

  • supra steve

    You guys gotta trade Iggy to the right team to get an inflated return. Especially this summer so that the team can make moves to fit his 7.0mill cap hit. Who didnt make the playoffs,no problem burying salaries & spending big $$$ & has a team that can win? Buffalo. They just happen to have 2 first rounders & 2 2nd rounders. How about Iggy for Adams, 1st rounder & 2nd rounder? Let Buff worry about the cap, Pegula has more money than brains.

  • Reidja

    Just wondering. Who guarantees we will suck if we trade Kipper & Iggy? Will it be that much worse than no playoffs for the last 3 years? Games still have to be played.

    • Vintage Flame

      I’m with you on this question Kevin. Personally I think if the Flames are smart with whatever deal they can pull off, then they won’t really be any worse off than they were last season, even if they are without Iggy and Kipper.

  • Reidja

    ok ok this is the way i see it. we changed gm and coach, we got nothin. following that vein its kings turn, and a slew of players. i respect both iggy and kipper but ones gotta go.