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…

  • Derzie

    If the intent of this article is to make me furious with Ken King, mission accomplished. Nothing worse than a suit telling the GM how to build a hockey team. Grrrr. Shame on all you season ticket holders who renewed.

    • Vintage Flame

      Sorry Derzie..
      It’s not so much to make you angry with King, though I suspect it doesn’t take much to get the fans going when it comes to the President. More-so, it was a plea to Feaster to show the fans he can put his money where his mouth is and if he can stand up to the ownership group, King included, for what is best for this team and ultimately the organization. 😉

  • Derzie

    That was quite the bold article VF. I think we need to trade Iggy and NOT Kipper to change the leadership in the locker room. No shots on goal in a must win game in the last week of the season is not leading by example!

    The fear is that what we might get back is a top 6 forward and a first round pick but very low in the first round cause Iggy will want to go to a contender. I don’t know about you but that is not good enough in return. That leaves Kipper as our best asset and will probably bring the most return. Considering how many years Kipper has stood on his head and given all he has for the Flames it would be sad to see him go. On the other hand I don’t want to see Kipper lower his goals against average in games we still lose because this team can’t score goals!

    It is time the Flames start addressing the real issues with an “inconsistent” team instead of throwing the coaches under the bus. The players and management need to shoulder much of the responsibility. It is time for change and big changes. Hopefully Feaster has the fortitude to make the bold changes!

  • Vintage Flame

    Good post VF. Any opinions on what Ferland can possibly do in Abby this post-season? Maybe our youth ain’t so bad. We NEED to do something other than get a new coach this season. Iginla/Kipper has to be dealt. Mind you, not both because we’re not looking to throw ourselves back into the pre- 2003-2004 Dark Ages of No Playoffs for Eternity, but at least one of them needs to go.

    Kipper is the one that holds the most value for a team on the brink of the playoffs such as Washington who needs an actual goalie. Or Winnipeg or someone like that. We need to try and get another first rounder at this year’s draft. By the way it’s highly unlikely that the Flames will send Iggy to Vancouver because I just don’t think he wants to play for that team. I could actually see him in Edmonton quite possibly because he was born somewhere aroudn there. Cheers to a good 2012 draft.

    • Vintage Flame

      Good post VF. Any opinions on what Ferland can possibly do in Abby this post-season? Maybe our youth ain’t so bad. We NEED to do something other than get a new coach this season. Iginla/Kipper has to be dealt.

      Thanks Austin;
      I am curious to see how Ferland does in Abby, he is a bigger body at 6’2″ and 208 lbs, coming off his best offensive output. Considering the kid didn’t start playing hockey until the age of 14, I am skeptical to say just what his ceiling is yet. The call up to Abby is no doubt going to benefit him in that he gets a jump on spending time with Troy Ward. Reinhart got 2 goals in his first game and by no means am I comparing the two, but I am anxious to see what he does with the Heat.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I agree with you. Don’t read Brownlee’s articles.

    Sutter is a good coach but if he did not agree with the direction of the team then move on.

    As far as moving players out because they are on the backside of their NHL careers at this point, don’t agree. The return for Iginla and Kipper is not attractive enough to move them. History has shown in the past you do not win a trade by moving star players out. Besides the Joe Niewendyk trade name who we got for Macinnis, Suter, Gilmour, Fluery, Vernon, Hull, St Louis, etc. Most times it doesn’t work out.

    If management is taking this approach I completely support it. Calgary liquidated those stars in the early 90’s that should have set Calgary up for years to come instead it amounted to sevens dark years of missing the playoffs.

    I can’t say I blame the owners for not wanting to get burned again.

  • MC Hockey

    Hey Vf and all, Don’t you thnk Iggy would actually fit well either in Vancouver but even moreso in Edmonton given his St. albert birthplace and his family’s likely wish to stay in low-tax Alberta? Can’t you see Iggy scoring 80-90 points again playing with some of Edmonton’s young studs? So how about the #1 overall pick plus something else for Iggy? I know it will never happen with Edmonton but me can wonder!

    • The #1 pick PLUS something for Iggy?!?!!! This is the problem, people put Iggy’s value unrealistically high.

      The Oilers wouldn’t trade the #1 pick for Iggy and Baertschi. You want their #1 AND something else for Iggy… Wow. You obviously have no idea how hard it is to get a #1 overall pick. It takes a solid year of pure sucking, and then some luck to win or hold the lottery.

      There is no combination of players on the Flames that the Oilers would trade that #1 for.

      Thats my problem here. We have 2 assets that ownership won’t trade, but even if they do they won’t get us much. Kipper might, but Iggy is getting us draft picks and prospects (and not a top 10 pick never mind the #1 overall!!)

      Which leaves us with UFAs. What if Feaster strikes out? Why would Parise or Suter come here? The league is so even that money doesn’t matter anymore, so it comes down to a flashy city and more importantly contention. Calgary isn’t NYCity or LA, and we just aren’t anything close to a contender. So I’d say the chances of getting Suter OR Parise are less than zero.

      Feaster needs to gets some cahones, trade Iggy for a few middling draft picks (late 1st rounder + 2nd rounder). Same with Kipper. Then bunker down and ride it out for a few years while we wait for our current prospects to come along, and hopefully one of the new draft picks to be a diamond in the rough.

    • Vintage Flame

      Yeah he would probably be a fit in either of those teams… He would probably be a fit on most teams in the NHL, but there is no way Edm gives up that 1st pick overall for Iggy when he’s 35 years old… But I like your thinking

  • First Name Unidentified

    Feaster is helpless. There is no point piling up expectations on him. The only deals he has free reigns on are the likes of signing of Jackman, etc. I don’t think he can even call up Aliu and Wilson from the AHL without taking permission from KK and Edwards.

    I’m going to say this again: There is no coach, in my opinion, in this league that can coach this team as long as Iginla is around. Brent is a good coach and we will all very soon see him enjoy great success with the Oilers (or anywhere else).

    There is no hope for us hardcore Flames fans. We are doomed to mediocrity. The owners are happy raking in cash, why change?

    Change? You talking about change?

  • RexLibris

    The article was posted on FN as well.

    It certainly is a good read, and as a fellow Oiler fan it strikes to the heart of why Oiler fans, in my opinion, are so patient and excited about the current state of the team, despite what those outside the city may feel.

  • RexLibris

    Hey Flames Fans,
    Have a read on the following article –

    http://oilersnation.com/2012/4/13/the-mirage-of-contention

    I wanted to post this in hopes that someone in Flamesville will try and talk some sense in Mr.Feaster because he’s putting a good ol’ Edmonton by Iginla in a hard spot. Iginla is far too classy a player to ask for a trade. With Feasters grand plan to do absolutely nothing – Jarome will sadly spend his last days as a Flame floundering in mediocrity. Trust me Flamers fans, Ther Oilers did nothing for years too stubborn to rebuild. We know now that DID NOT work. All the best!

    • Vintage Flame

      I make it a point to not read Brownlee’s articles.

      Once again though I feel it necessary to defend Feaster a bit. Realistically there was very little expectation that Jay was going to turn this team around this passed season. he was severely handcuffed with contracts and NTC’s.

      As I said this off-season he is going to be under the microscope by fans and I’m sure by ownership. I will give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but if the Flames go into next season without significant change, then people are going to be finding the closest flag pole to hang Jay from.

  • RexLibris

    I see Ferland has joined the Heat for their playoff run. I’ll be interested to hear how he does in the AHL.

    As for Feaster, if he takes the Flames in the direction that he took the Lightning (cup aside) the I don’t think fans will be all that enthused about his reign and any failures of his may only serve to buy Ken King more time at the helm.

    Time will tell, but I agree that this summer is a significant opportunity for Feaster to display some GM talent and proactively alter the look of the team.

  • supra steve

    Agree lots with Steve’s post. One thing to consider for those who think Sutter moving on is indicative of status quo & retool(basically Bartsche), dont kid yourself. B Sutter had 3 years & did not perform, in the world of sports, thats a death sentence. He said he would do things differently if he came back, why didnt he this year? Anyone see changes in his coaching at any point this year? To me it was the same smashing a square peg into a round hole. Next!

    I dont know if Feaster is the one to finally make the big bold changes needed here, but I for one, will give him a chance to do so this offseason. There were a lot of reasons that last year here went down the way it did. Personally, we actually did way better than what I thought we would given the number of new & younger faces in our line up. The change is coming, it has to, another crappy year next & does anyone honestly think Iggy is sticking around to be a centre piece of a rebuild when he becomes a UFA?? Really, I hope this Iggy gong show is over this summer or no later than next trade deadline, but it will for sure be done July 1 2013.

  • supra steve

    Agree that your goaltender is a particularily important part of any team. However, if you keep Kipper, what do you expect to see happen in the future? How many more above average seasons do you expect out of him? Are the playoffs a real posibility for this team in the next few years? Do you need to mortgage the future (eg. trade Sven) to get back to the playoffs next year? Are the Flames willing to do that? I hope not!

    Kipper could play on my team any day, as long as the goal is to try to win a championship. I don’t see that as a realistic goal in this city, at this time. If we got Parise, and Suter this summer I might change my strategy. But, realistically, we are not getting Suter or Parise this summer. Kipper is propping this team up and in doing so is costing us the chance to draft higher and thus slowing the inevitable rebuild. Time to deal yesterday’s stars for a shot at drafting tomorrow’s.

    • Vintage Flame

      However, if you keep Kipper, what do you expect to see happen in the future? How many more above average seasons do you expect out of him?

      I expect to see very little change in the status quo if the Flames keep Kipper or Iginla, that’s why I’m a big proponent of trading both of them.. now.

      Do you need to mortgage the future (eg. trade Sven) to get back to the playoffs next year?

      Absolutely not. Even if the Flames were dumb enough to trade Bärtschi, there is no way they are a playoff contender next season. Why mortgage the next 10-15 years of Bärtschi’s career to give Kipper and Iginla another 1 or 2 years on a team that is going nowhere with them?

      Time to deal yesterday’s stars for a shot at drafting tomorrow’s.

      Amen!

  • MC Hockey

    Agree with the article whole hearted. But still firmly believe that Kipersoff should not go anywhere!!!! A goalie is the basis of a good team moving forward.

  • MC Hockey

    Great article VF! Not as many fancy psychological and other terms used as Esquire Wilson’s recent article but great nonetheless! I also wonder if Mr Feaster is truly unshackled and is allowed to make big changes as backed up by his impressive hockey ops team. My feeling is the owners and Ken King are not intellectually honest and will not allow an Iggy trade which is too bad given potentially strong returns for him, there reasons being that just in case it blows up on them and they are personally vilified, it may be hard to live in Calgary. However given salary-cap relief I would say the team can finally build around him and if that take big bucks to get Parise (my favorite form this list) or Suter or Semin or Carle or Wideman or even trade for Stasny or other young forward Or solid D talent, the spend that darn $$ and improve the team while the owners will still see jersey, ticket,and other revenues increase enough to pay for those guys. And playoff revenues, if acheived, will be icing on the money-cake for Edwards and co! Re-tool with young prospects, and signing FA’s via money and convincing them Flames really want to win the Cup!!

    • Vintage Flame

      Thankyou 🙂

      There is the room to re-tool with Iginla and Kipper still on the roster if you look at the room they have under the cap.. then again it’s like your grandpa getting new dentures.. You really going to celebrate with a big ol’ steak? Not likely.

      Everyone loves Iggy for what he has done for this city, the same goes for Kipper. I can’t see any one true fan holding a grudge if they go play for another team (unless it’s Vancouver). There is no logical reasoning where Iggy and a Flames re-build coexist. It would be nice, but I prefer to remember the Iggy of 2004 than to see him toil away here while the team continues to get younger and the fans get more and more bitter.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        I think your right in saying that Feaster’s hands were largely tied last off season, and I will also be waiting for the end of the season before I judge his performance. That said, one thing that has been bugging me is Feaster’s assertion that he would build a winning team differently. He claimed that the Flames would remain competive every year and continue to improve. While, I believe this can be true and some teams have had success (ie San Jose and Detroit), this line of thinking scares me where the Flames are concerned. I say this because, Flames management may be willing to perpetually sell the future for the current campaign, in the false belief that they can win. So, a rewind of 2009 to today.

        • Vintage Flame

          You know CA, I was thinking of that possibility as well but the way I look at it, there is no scenario where the Flames can have their cake and eat it too. Not this time.

          If Feaster wants to build this team in a different way, then logically that means that most things have to change. With so many UFA’s, again if he chooses a new direction, I can’t see him being able to bring everyone along, even if he wanted to; it would just grind everything to a halt.

          He can call it a re-tooling if he makes only a few deals, but if they include Iggy and/or Kipper, that’s a re-build for sure. There’s no one foot in the water this summer.

  • Graham

    Feaster has yet to show that he is anything but a ‘yes’ man for Ken King. So far, he has executed pretty much the company line, keep the status quo, keep up the pretence that this team is ‘good enough’, just not ‘lucky’ enough to make the playoffs, we should ‘retool’ not rebuid.

    This will be a telling off sesaon, is Feaster his own man, or are we going to have another run with pretty much the same group, plus or minus some minor UFA moves.

    The feeling seems to be that Coach Sutter wanted more radical off season changes than Feaster, which just might be a major tell on how the off season will unfold.