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In their history, the Calgary Flames haven’t gone through very many team presidents

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
This article is brought to you by bet365
On Monday, the Calgary Flames announced that John Bean will be stepping down as president and CEO of the organization – the Flames and the parent Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which includes the Wranglers, Hitmen, Roughnecks, Stampeders, and operation of the Saddledome. He’ll be succeeded by Robert Hayes, who brings with him a bevy of experience from the banking sector.
Dating back to the Flames’ days in Atlanta, Hayes is just the seventh president in club history.

A brief history of Flames team presidents

When Tom Cousins became the owner of the Atlanta Flames, he didn’t go far to find the first president of the team. Cousins owned the Flames and the Atlanta Hawks, and the Omni, the arena they both played in. So Bob Kent, president of the Omni, was made president of the Flames, too, a job he held until the club relocated to Calgary in 1980. Kent had a lengthy history in both sports and venue management, having coached college basketball, worked for local TV and newspapers briefly, and ran the War Memorial Auditorium in Fayetteville, WV and the Greensboro Coliseum.
After the Flames moved north, majority owner Nelson Skalbania was his own chief executive for the first season. After his departure, Cliff Fletcher added president to his existing general manager title. He held the dual roles from 1981 until his departure in 1991. Fletcher knew the hockey apparatus inside and out and had immense experience in that regard, and the added presidential role seemed primarily ceremonial – he had to liaise with the business side of things for duties with the board of governors, but a staff was gradually built to help with that part.
When Fletcher headed to Toronto, he was succeeded by former Chicago Blackhawks player Bill Hay as team president from 1991 to 1995. Hay had a distinguished career on the ice, including a Stanley Cup win in 1961. After retiring, he briefly was president of the WHA’s Calgary Cowboys, worked in oil and gas and volunteered with Hockey Canada before joining the Flames. While Hay was president, the Flames purchased an American Hockey League team, and the later part of his tenure was dominated by extensive negotiations regarding upgrades to the Saddledome that resulted in substantial renovations and the Flames taking over operation of the facility.
After Hay left the Flames to join the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995, the presidential role was left vacant for a year – Al Coates handled a lot of the duties – before Ron Bremner was recruited from Vancouver in 1996. Bremner had a lengthy resume of sales and marketing experience, most notably working up from lower level positions in media sales to running multiple radio stations. While Bremner was president, the Flames purchased the Hitmen.
Bremner left the Flames in 2001 and was replaced by Ken King. King was well-known in Calgary before he was hired due to his previous roles as the publisher of the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun. King was the first Flames team president to have a president of hockey operations work underneath him, as Brian Burke worked in that role from 2013 to 2018. The organization became more complex during King’s tenure, adding the Roughnecks and Stampeders to their portfolio and reorganizing into the modern CSEC group. After the Saddledome flooded in 2013, much of King’s attentions were on negotiating a deal with the City of Calgary to construct a new arena.
John Bean, who had worked underneath King with the Flames in a variety of roles – first chief financial officer, then chief operating officer – became president in 2018, as King’s role was modified to vice-chairman. Bean had a background in accounting, and served in several finance roles in the oil and gas sector prior to joining the Flames. He had a president of hockey operations work underneath him in his final season in the form of Don Maloney. As with King, a lot of Bean’s efforts were spent on hammering out the new arena deal.
In the context of CSEC as a whole – especially how large the organization has become over the years – Hayes is very much in line with the types they’ve looked for; experienced executives who’ve worked in big, complex organizations in the past. Back in the ’70s or ’80s, you could have the arena’s president wear multiple hats or add the duties onto the GM’s plate, but these days the gig is much, much different. And the job will only become more complex as construction ramps up on the new arena starting this summer.
We’re not sure what Hayes’ legacy will be as head honcho, but we know he’ll be overseeing a very important period of change for the Flames organization – on and off the ice.

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