Rumor: Flames Hiring New President of Hockey Operations



Bruce Dowbiggen isn’t very popular in many Flames fan circles, but he’s not a guy who makes a habit of trading unfounded rumors, so there could be something to this.

The popular assertion right now is that the target is Brendan Shanahan. I don’t know what tools the current head of NHL discipline would bring to such a role, but I am certainly in favor of any move that gets Ken King a few steps away from the actual hockey portion of the business. There’s no question KK is a gregarious figurehead who can glad-hand the public with the best of them (while squeezing every ounce of revenue from his partnerships and biz ops behind the scenes), but he’s not really a true hockey guy given his background as a newspaper man.

My operating assumption when Jay Feaster was hired was the team would eventually make this move by bumping King up the ladder, moving Feaster into the Presidential role and then finding an up-and-coming GM to take the reins. Looks like the org might be keeping Jay in place and installing a more conventional "hockey guy" above him instead though.

  • smith

    My family is close to a former Flame who now works in the financial sector with my mum & my cousin played Bantam and Midget AAA hockey with his son. I won’t drop names but I’ve asked him about this before and both Lanny and Peplinski were offered opportunities to be a part of the management team in Calgary or to take a more active role and both respectively declined.

    I am pretty sure the only reason Lanny is not involved with the Flames is because he does not want to be (his choice).

    I think Shanny is an excellent choice. He’s old enough to understand the old time hockey side of things. He’s college educated and I believe he’s still young enough to bring a fresh perspective and a new outlook to the team. If they do hire Shanny – i’d pretty stoked for the Flames.

  • Scootermario

    I think everyone in the organization is looking forward to King’s removal at the helm. The party fund is getting larger by the day and the bald feller won’t be invited. Good day.

  • gotommygo

    Maybe the Flames could hire Burke to pull off his draft day magic of 1999? He got the first overall pick that year by trading fourth overall plus two third round picks, so certainly he could move us up to 2nd overall this year with what we’ve got to offer. Once he pulls that off, then assign him to the arena project with KK. Of course, Feaster may have been a part of that deal on the wrong end.

  • RKD

    Yeah figured I would get scorched a bit on the BB suggestion. I don’t think it would be as bad as one would think & it’s still Feasters/Wiesbrods advanced stats game, but OK. I don’t think Nieuy would be a good choice either, not overwhelmed with his work in Dallas. There was a time long ago Lanny wanted this position & got snubbed & he wasn’t a happy camper about it. The ship for Lanny has sailed & that is not an option.

  • Michael

    Is this is true, don’t assume that Feaster is safe as GM. If I was taking over as President I wouldn’t be signing on the bottom line without carte blanche in terms of making changes. The fact that Feaster apparently isn’t be moved to President (which is a job he is much better suited to than GM) speaks volumes… To be honest, replacing Feaster is the first move that I would make.

    King is (or was as President) a solid business leader, helped (maybe big time) by a much stronger dollar, he returned the club to financial stability. He was however, a weak hockey President, he leaves hockey operations and the reputation of the Flames in shatters.
    Any move to replace him with a hockey guy is a solid move for the Flames.

  • RKD

    Shanny is pretty limited in experience, a lot of guys cut their teeth before moving into positions such as these. Even if Yzerman was given a VP title, he spent a lot of time learning the business ditto for Sakic. That being said, I think former players are really better suited to learn the business side rather than jumping into coaching. The best players don’t make the best coaches, Gretzky is the perfect example. Let’s see how Roy fares as the Avs new bench boss.

    The good thing if this is true, all the negativity and pressure surrounding sheriff Shanahan can be a large burden for anyone to carry. He can come to a hockey market and pass his hockey knowledge to Feaster and Weisbrod. He’s also part of the competition committee so I don’t know if that would be a hockey factor.

    The Flames need a fresh voice, recycling veteran players is the same as keeping one person in a high position too long. Ken King makes the Flames a lot of money but his hockey IQ is extremely low and no one on this site or anywhere else can dispute that.

  • No to Brian Burke. If his bluster in public is to be believed, he is firmly entrenched in conventional and outmoded thinking when it comes to thinking about the game. That is, he is aggressively opposed to advanced/statistical analysis.

    Flames don’t need a member of the old guard in the executive office yelling about truculence.

    • smith

      Didn’t Feaster come out on the radio with pretty well the same thoughts/ideas yesterday? Saying that he was putting a premium on toughness or tough to play against or hard nosed guys or however he phrased it?

      Anyways, the decision to move King out of Hockey Ops has to be seen as a good move(well depending on who they bring in). Don’t know if Edwards just really needs the guy he feels is best to be on the Arena project 100% as he doesn’t want to put ANY money into the arena himself, or he woke up one day and realized what position King has put his franchise into and realized that he needs an actual hockey mind running things.

      I agree with whoever else said that Feasters days are numbered if this moves comes to fruition. Any new President wants to install his own guys. Didn’t take long at all in Columbus, wouldn’t be long here either.

      If it’s Shanahan moving into the big chair Feaster is gone, if it’s Feaster Weisbrod is getting a promotion as well. Maybe it speaks to the promotion(?) that Conroy got now that he’s running the Heat from what I understand. Conroy is being set up for an Assitant GM role?

        • Rockmorton65

          I don’t think Brian Burke is the best GM in the league or anything even close, but I think he can put together half decent hockey team.

          The biggest problem with burke, is even if he can acquire the once ice talent, he usualy adds a bunch of pylons or pluggers to go along with it. Or hirer the most useless coaches to manage said team. Or just go out and say the dumbest of the dumb BS cause well, Brian Burke. Or caught in the Calgary trap of failing to rebuild(ie the Kessel Trade).

          Do I want BB to be involved with the Calgary Flames, no, not really, do I think he’d do a better job than the guys currently running the show, well, I really don’t think he could do a worse job.

        • Rockmorton65

          Burke in Vancouver: through draft savvy and great trading acquired both sedins. acquired Morrison to center the number 1 line. brought in jovo to anchor the defense. Vancouver is still benefitting from his moves

          signed selanne when others thoughtvhe was done, traded for beauchemin and pronger, signed moen, marchant and niedermayer.

          Toronto: rebuilt their farm system and broughtbin a very progressive coach in Dallas Eakins. positioned Toronto to come within 1 shot of knocking off the possible cup winner

          Helped build and select tremendously successful USA Olympic and World Cup teams over the past 2 decades.

          but, he is not a fan of the great Jim Corsi so he is no good

          • Derzie

            Toronto had the 8 th and 21 st leading Scorers in the league. they have 2 players over the age of 30 on their roster and yet were a playoff team. They have 4 players coming out of junior at the defense position alone who are considered sure bets to be NHL players. It looks like Burke left the Leafs in prettybdarn good shape.

      • Scootermario

        I’m pretty sure BoL has one on his blog, actually…


        You mean like how the first thing John Davidson did when he took over the BJs was fire Scott Howson? Feaster isn’t as bad as Howson, but well… yeah.

        Who replaces him though? Maybe there’s some GM no one’s heard of over in Switzerland who can come in and pull a Jarmo Kekalainen.

  • schevvy

    If they are going to hire a “hockey guy” I hope they do it before the draft. Get him in there to help out Feaster, Weisbrod and the scouting staff. Wonder if they would hire someone that would do what Sakic is doing now in Colorado: do everything the GM does without actually being the GM. That’s the only way I see Shanahan coming.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Put me in the ‘hire Burke’ camp as well.

    His results in Anaheim and Vancouver have been excellent, and his team in Toronto looks to be turning the corner.

  • JR

    Another name that intrigued me was Joe Nieuwendyk. Not sure what his role is in Dallas now that Jim Nill has taken over as GM or if he’s been let go altogether. Also not sure if Joe would be a better candidate than Shanahan but there is Flames ties there. Anyway the Flames go by getting a hockey guy in place as President of hockey ops will be a vast improvement over King.

  • Well there may be hope for us yet. Perfect timing to start this rebuild, no monster contracts to negotiate, no prima donnas to handle with kid gloves, I think I’m like that Geico commercial where I am as happy as a camel walking around the office on Wednesday :}

    Now I know I am going to get roasted for this suggestion, but seeing we are about to go thru a rebuild, a guy that is very qualified is Brian Burke. I would not be opposed to that.

  • Assuming the rumour is true, I’m a big fan. Any move that gets Ken King away from hockey ops is a positive move in my books. While his financial chops are second to none, his record on the hockey side has been far from exemplary. How much of the Flames issues can be placed on him, rather than on ownership is an open question, but the fact remains a change in the direction of hockey ops is undoubtedly a good thing.

    My only frustration is that this move was not done when John Davidson was available. His record is top notch and would’ve filled the role that is opening in Calgary perfectly.

    I will reserve judgment until we know who ends up taking the hockey ops role but it is doubtful that they will be as a good a candidate as JD.

    As with everything with the Flames critical moves are done too late to ensure their maximum benefit.

  • Only real connection I can see – and it might be a reach – is the connection both Murray Edwards & Brendan Shanahan have to Gary Bettman. Shanahan has long been rumored to want to run a team, and maybe Gary put in a good word to Edwards. Other than that, its just a hockey guy looking for a job, and the Flames looking for a hockey guy. Put me down for ‘yay’.

  • Christian Roatis

    Some of the narratives I’ve come across while poking around (mostly on Twitter), are that Murray Edwards and Shanahan talked a lot during the lockout, and that Shanahan has been in Calgary lately.

    Don’t know how true any of that is.

  • BurningSensation

    Are we sure that Dowbiggen didn’t just misunderstand the Iranian election results?

    In any case, this sounds like a VERY positive step forward.

    Shanahan is something of an odd choice though, but maybe he’s jealous of former rival Cam Neely and this was the best opportunity available.