Patience A Virtue Burke Doesn’t Believe In



The first move was a quake. Way up there on the Richter scale.

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Jay Feaster is out as the Calgary Flames’ general manager much more quickly than anyone anticipated even with Brian Burke looming large since his hire as president of hockey operations back in September.

The second move might have seemed a minor aftershock, but the demotion of struggling young winger Sven Baertschi was the most telling sign of the opposing views Burke and Feaster had when it comes to the team’s rebuild.

Feaster preached patience.

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After finally, reluctantly, accepting the idea of a total rebuild rather than another retooling of the roster last season, he envisioned a youthful group growing together to eventually get back to the playoffs and a crack at the Stanley Cup.

His patience for those young players’ development – like Baertschi – was made perfectly clear by his hesitance to demote the struggling and the scratched.

Burke wasted no time in doing so, sending the 21-year-old Swiss prospect back to the Abbotsford Heat hours after announcing he’d taken over the reins as interim GM Thursday.

Given Baertschi’s reluctance to play hard in all three zones with and without the puck, and Burke’s mandate of bringing a more physical style to the ice under his guidance, don’t be shocked to hear Baertschi’s name bandied about in trade rumours from now until the deadline — barring a significant change in on-ice attitude from the winger in the American Hockey League.

By all accounts, there was no obvious tension between Feaster and Burke leading up to the firing.No heated arguments. But Feaster – as alluded to in a Darren Dreger tweet – could feel that something was amiss following Burke’s two-month assessment of the franchise’s direction.

Burke thanked Feaster in his news conference, wished him well going forward, and even gave him credit for adding a few pieces he likes.

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“His fingerprints are going to be on this team for many years, with players he brought here, like Sean Monahan,” Burke said.

But make no mistake, they didn’t share quite the same vision, or the same timeline. If they did, the dismissal could have come in the offseason.

Yet here we are with Burke in control as the interim GM at a pivotal time for the direction of the hockey club. The self-imposed Christmas trade freeze is in effect, but come the new year, Burke — or the man who shares his very specific vision — will be in charge of making the kind of changes that will appease his sense of urgency.

"I’m not a patient person," Burke said Thursday. "I’ve said this before. I was born impatient. I’m going to die impatient. I know that. It can’t come as fast as I’d like it to come.”

It, being a team capable of making the playoffs. It, being a team that has a realistic chance of winning the Cup.

And just when the fans were starting to enjoy the positive signs in the first few months of the most serious rebuild in franchise history, as far from those things as they’ve been since Miikka Kiprusoff came to town.

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What happens next is anybody’s guess. If Burke doesn’t like what he hears from the top candidates to take over GM duties, he’s ready to do the job himself.

Either way, the Flames are set to get a lot bigger and tougher in the near future.

"We want black-and-blue hockey here, that’s what we do in Alberta," Burke said. "We’ve got to be big and more truculent — I know you’re all waiting for the word, there it is. I want a little more hostility out there than what I’m seeing right now."

Despite that sentiment, he did make an effort to let a couple of college kids — and one special small-in-stature player know he could still have a bright future with the Flames, texting Boston College coach Jerry York about Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold.

“I said: Make sure you tell your players we still love ’em,” Burke said. “One of them’s quite small, the Gaudreau kid. But he’s quite gifted as well. There’s room for the small player in our game, but you’d better surround him with some beef.”

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Sooner than later, it seems.

Burke isn’t very patient, after all.

  • beloch

    Eventhough it is never good to see a couple of good men lose their job (providers for their families; unlike Jeff in Lethbridge and the rest of you losers who live in your moms basement leaching their parents hard earned retirement money away) this is probably a good move for the Flames…..


  • EducatedHockeyFan

    Feaster – the hedgehog, had to go. He was left with a criminally bad team by the all-mighty sutter, however, he didn’t really do a whole lot to improve the pantry. He helped tank the lightning, he helped keep us in the toilet.

    Burke is a brash man who loves old time hockey, he’s an off-the-handle gentleman. Old time hockey doesn’t really fly in the new-time hockey era. I agree you need to have massive, stand-up, knock em’ down guys but you cant have 23 of them. A team of Bertuzzis is going to win you as many games as a team full of Fluery’s.

    The flames need to look to the old nintendo game Ice Hockey. You cant win with all one size of player, you need a healthy mix of skill and size. Burke looks for his players in the jungles of the Congo, all Silverbacks.

    We could be in for the long haul here only to regain our place as perennial 7-10th place finishers.

  • Lordmork

    For me, this is the most frustrating thing about Burke, because rather than building a team through the draft, I expect him to overpay for the kind of team he wants to build now. There’s a place for UFA signings and trading draft picks, but I fully expect Burke to sell the future in exchange for a shot at the cup today, and I don’t expect the Flames to be a top team by the end of it, merely a team good enough to compete for 8th.

    • Lordmork

      Your concerns are mine as well.
      Whenever people try to move too fast they usually make a lot of bad decisions and I am afraid this is what we will get from Burke.
      What really gets me is how Burke claims that with a couple exceptions he wasn’t thrilled with Feaster’s drafts.
      Anyone who thinks Burke knows all when it come to drafting should go back and compare the leafs drafts while he was in charge with the drafts Feaster made here in his short time here.
      Burke talks about how the Flames have to “nail” the up coming drafts. I totally agree, but based on the records I’ve mentioned I’d rather have Feaster in charge than Burke– unless he get someone to do this who has a better record than he has.


  • Derzie

    Ken King in the box last night with his bestest buddy Burke last night made me sick. The whole start to this season was one big ruse. Ken King is a large man with a ‘i’ll squeeze harder than you’ hand shake. A truculent lunkhead. The hire of Burke was hiring a like minded, although intelligent, troglodyte to realize the vision: To be the bastard step-child of the LA Kings and Boston Bruins. Failing to note that the current cup champs are not towering meatheads. They win because of Kane, Toews, Hossa, Keith, Sharp, all of which are elite skilled players. This lead in article even buys in to the Burke/Hartley crap-ola that pegs Sven as ‘struggling’. In a rebuild year, the only struggling he was doing was getting ice time from his lunch bucket coach. Whatever line he was on was either the 1st or 2nd most productive line at all times. Sad days in YYC.

    • loudogYYC

      I had a nice chat with a member of Flames head office last year and we talked about advanced stats and how it’s slowly moving into Hockey as it did in Baseball. He said he had once met with Burke and discussed advanced stats with him. His take was that while Burke publicly says advanced stats don’t mean anything, he really thinks he gets it and had even allotted a large budget for it in Toronto.

      I’ve always thought Burke is a cynic and won’t always tell you what he’s really thinking cause he’s very calculated. I see this as a good thing. He might come across as brash or off the handle, but ultimately, he really doesn’t give a sh*t what most think and he’s probably smarter than most managers in Hockey.

      Feaster wasn’t too brutal, but the one thing that always bugged me about him is that he always seemed to be excited to show how different or how smart he was. The best player in the draft comment about Jankowski, the best players not in the NHL comments about Ramo and Cervenka, etc. There’s no benefit to all that.
      He and to a degree Weisbrod always came across to me as your classic American educated smart asses.

      Just because Burke says he’s an impatient man doesn’t mean he’s gonna trade Gaudreau, Baertschi and Backlund for Travis Moen, Dustin Penner and Daniel Winnik. I think it definitely means his tolerance for Country Club BS behavior will be zero.

      This of course is my opinion and I may be in the minority here, but Burke is exactly what this franchise needs right now.

      Vote for Paul Fenton!

        • loudogYYC

          I heard that, and I heard that he also stopped Feaster from trading away that pick during the season because he had found “the one”. Overall they didn’t make for a great team at the top.

          I kinda liked Weisbrod, but hearing those tidbits was definitely scary. Janko may still turn out to be decent, but you don’t take those chances in the 1st round.

          • loudogYYC

            I’m sure Loubo knows a lot more than he’ll ever say publicly. I’m hoping Millions will report a little more on the subject.

            Something neat happened yesterday when the guys on the Fan960 were having their little roundtable. They asked Millions what he thought was the main reason for the firing, he said it was a known fact that Weisbrod had a tendency to act without full endorsement and that the Jankowski pick reeked of it. At that point he stopped and said:
            ‘I just received a text from someone in Hockey who’s listening and they just said Bingo’.

          • It’s this stuff that scared the heck out of me with Weisbrod from day 1. Dude is a rabid cowboy who shouldn’t be trusted. Feaster had no control over his “assistant”. Burke must have been like wtf is going on here?? They both had to go but I’m sure the decision to can Weisbrod was made before Feaster. Let the record show though that K-Squared has allowed all of this to happen under his watch. Just sayin.

          • loudogYYC

            I had no idea all that was a well known fact. The guy did a good job of operating quietly in the background. Not to get political at all but kinda like Cheney/Bush.

          • I wouldn’t say it was well known but it was out there in the hockey world somewhat. I’d like to say I first heard about trouble in paradise a little before the 2012 draft. And for basketball related reasons, I maybe knew a little more beforehand than most people in Calgary. And really none of it was private info…just read stories about how he ran the Magic. Drafting Dwight Howard and his subsequent resignation covered up A LOT, reputation-wise for the guy. But it was not a pretty picture…he is not well liked in Orlando.

          • Graham

            If that’s all Weisbrod did to decide that Jankowski was the guy, that is just wrong. I hope like hell that story is just a story and if it isn’t, then I am less and less sorry to see Weisbrod go.

  • Lordmork

    I’m hoping Troy Ward rebuild Sven’s confidence and can better his overall game so that he can stick around.

    I’m not sold that Burke is intent on moving him or Backlund, only that the overall team size needs to increase. I’m most likely being naive, but until he makes his moves I’ve decided not to get bent about it.

    Besides, I want to see who he hires as GM. I was touting Fenton yesterday, now I’m not so sure. Apparently Nieuwy has already said “no.”

    Feaster, overall, did have a mediocre track record. Imagine right now Monahan on the Avs with ROR on the CBJ. Not to mention the poor retrun on a top 60 D-man. In some ways I’m surprised he lasted this long.

    Btw, has Feaster spoken yet?

    • Frank Miron

      My thoughts too. I think Feaster was already sunk. Timeline……2012 draft he went off the board with Jankowski. Agree or disagree doesn’t matter, many in the hockey world mocked that pick. Then the ROR almost disaster. That was the last straw. If you owned the team & your GM luckily side stepped losing you a $5mill signing bonus, no player & a 1st & 3rd round pick in a deep draft, I don’t care what he did before, that is a career ending mistake. I think Ownership hired Burke to replace Feaster & hire a GM in Sept, but Burke wasn’t ready to do that until he saw more. Obviously he didn’t like what he saw.

      I agree, Sven should have been sent down awhile ago as soon as Hartley was benching him & sitting him out. He’s only 21, if you don’t have a frame like Lucic, you better score & create opportunities if you want to be in the top 6. He will get back on track under Ward & play top line minutes & lots of PP time. I think Feaster sheltered Sven too much, maybe he promised him something he shouldn’t of. Detroit take their time with many of their top prospects, doesn’t mean they are trading them for a bag of pucks.

      I know many like to trash Burke on this site, but the guy is not about to make trades without a decent return. When he took over Toronto, he did not feel he had any team to build around & therefore took a bold bold move to acquire Kessel, right or wrong you gotta start somewhere. Listening to him yesterday, that isn’t the case here. He likes all 3 players we took this year & feels they are all NHL players. I will bet anyone we don’t see any Kessel type trades out of Burke.

      I also took in the fact that Burke referred the GM position to being more administrative, so I see that as him wanting to hire a protégé type of GM for him to mentor. I am really disappointed if Nieuy turned it down, because I think he would have been perfect. Experienced, smart but raw & needing mentorship. If he was offered the position, that was a poor decision by Nieuy if he wants a career in upper management in the NHL.

  • Parallex

    I’m sorry, but I don’t get a lot of the opinions on sending Baertschi down being a bad thing. The kid has clearly lost his confidence. Hopefully he will be getting top line minutes and playing for a coach who is known for developing. To me, the issue doesn’t have to do with sending him down, but bringing him up early, and who was coaching him. Feaster was preaching patience on a rebuild, brings the kid up, then he goes out and hires a coach who is known for playing veterans over rookies.

  • I’m surprised at just how many of you guys Feaster and Weisbrod managed to sway in their support in my absence. That is not shocking cause both of those men are master swindlers that needed to be eradicated. While I don’t agree with Burke and his approach, I commend him for acting swift and cutting loose not one but two bad hires. Feaster may have drafted Sven and Monahan, but his shortcomings and failures severely outweigh his successes. Draft picks and mediocre acceptances due to low expectations aside, the guy was running a dysfunctional front office and it wasn’t clear he was even on the same page as Weisbrod. Both were too busy brown nosing K-Squared and ownership to realize the bigger goal they were hired to accomplish. Burke saw right through the bs and after evaluating things put an end to the nonsense. Does no one remember the conditions under which Feaster was hired or how he was hired??? Yes…the alternative with Burke or a Burke buddy in charge may not be good…but I am dead convinced that going down the path with the two guys he disposed of would have been even worse. One thing is for sure…Burke has never left a team in worse shape than Feaster left Tampa (and Weisbrod left the Magic). Both of those guys were lucky to even be in such a position…and in Canada of all places.

  • beloch

    I wouldn’t read too much into the Baertschi demotion. It’s more likely the result of Glencross’ return to the lineup than Burkes’s burger-joint putsch. Sven wasn’t getting a lot of minutes and didn’t have the swagger a scorer needs, so sending him down makes sense for his development. Most first round picks aren’t ready in their draft+2 season. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise.

    Trading Baertschi now would likely mean selling him rather low. It would be poor asset management and a very poor sign if Burke does trade him, but I think that’s unlikely unless Burke manages to hoodwink another GM into offering a clear upgrade at a bargain price. The only thing that’s a little ominous is how much Burke loves size.

    • EducatedHockeyFan

      I’m pretty sure it’s his Draft+3 season. But besides that small point, I agree.

      Look at Kadri, a bit bigger (6’0″), but the AHL time really paid off for him. Similar skill-set and knack for the game in my opinion. I believe Burke is trying to do the same thing for him.

      The negativity on this page is astounding. Burke may approach the game differently than the bloggers on this site, but he is still a hockey mind. I would love for him to put a stamp on this team like the Sedin moves, or a Chris Pronger.

      Maybe some *patience* is needed before you judge Burke.

  • Graham

    I personally believe that Feaster was at odds with the ownership group. While Feaster may have reluctantly started down the full rebuild path, I don’t believe that Mr. Edwards was in agreement. Edwards was clear last year that he wanted a competitive team challenging for a playoff spot. This is not the squad that Feaster delivered, hence the signing of Burke to oversee operations. In the business world, if you deviate from the set path and do your own thing, you had better hit it out of the ball park. Feaster failed to deliver so he pays the price. Unfortunately, I don’t think Feaster was a NHL caliber GM, he was simply in over his head.

  • RedMan


    couldn’t agree more, if you read between the lines Burke fully threw him under the bus on numerous occasions… his second intermission interview on the fan was especially telling the other night where he outlined the legal ramifications of the firings, saying that he had full ability and endorsement for one contract termination (weisbroad I’m guessing) and were still working out the details on the other… I also thought the comments about him not knowing much of weisbroad were telling as well…
    from day one it felt like he was a loose cannon who feaster had a man crush on… he always reeked of typical american style ego and I’m smarter than you attitude, their smugness of draft days were indicative of it.

    I feel bad for jay, I think the wool was pulled over his eyes for some time, that said, I wasn’t totally unhappy with their results, but it sure did feel like they were gambling with the houses money.

    Walter white – you’re an idiot, troll elsewhere.

  • Frank Miron

    Burke is not a patient man. Let’s apply his views on him; if we are not in the Stanley Cup finals next year let’s fire his arse and all his hires as well.