Feaster focused on big picture
Expectations remain high inside the Flames organization
CALGARY, AB -- Every fall, media outlets across North America prepare for the NHL season by conjecturing on how the year will go for each NHL club.
They break down which teams they feel are guarantees to be in the postseason, which squads are on the bubble and which clubs will be on the outside looking in come April.
We've all seen the predictions. We all know there are a fair number of people in sports media who have dubbed the Calgary Flames as "basement dwellers" before the puck has even dropped for the 2013-14 campaign.
General manager Jay Feaster knows this. But he isn't concerned about what outside sources have to say about his hockey club.
"I could care less, thanks," he said on Friday morning. "Seriously, that's ridiculous - if we're going to talk about what the pundits, the experts, and the talking heads have to say about this hockey club. I have a lot better things to do and worry about than that."
The team has acknowledged it’s rebuilding, looking to get younger, faster and stronger in all positions. They have shed salaries and long-term contracts, collected draft picks and have worked with Abbotsford Heat head coach Troy G. Ward to ensure the system played in Calgary is mirrored on the farm team.
But just because Flames management is focused on retooling its roster and bolstering its prospect pool doesn't mean they aren’t results-driven. The media may have low expectations for the 2013-14 Flames roster but the organization does not.
"We're going to play hard. We're going to compete hard," Feaster stated. "We're going to go out there with the expectation of winning. We are not going to go out with the expectation of, 'Oh, we're young,' or, 'Oh, we're rebuilding and therefore results don't matter.' Results do matter."
There is no question growing pains are inevitable. Integrating more rookies into the lineup means many players are going to learn by trial and error. Hands-on experience is the only way for youngsters to progress and grow as players and mistakes are understandable.
Feaster is prepared for those types of missteps which is much more preferable than what he has witnessed over the past few seasons.
"I'm not sure it can be any more difficult than what it has been the last three years. It has been maddening, the last three years I've been here. It's a case where we don't make the playoffs, we don't win enough games, we fall short and we draft in the middle of the pack.
"We're excited about this group that we've assembled."
What will be mandatory for every player donning a Flames sweater is an unwavering work ethic and a steadfast commitment to the team. Nights off won't be tolerated, no matter if you're a fresh-faced rookie or a seasoned veteran. In order to foster a winning culture, there is no room for any sort of laziness.
"We expect that the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts and we'll be known by our work ethic. It's not a matter of how many times we get knocked down. It's about how many times we get back up and we keep moving forward. That is what we're going to focus on.
"We expect the young kids to play well. We expect our veterans to play well. There are a lot of question marks on this hockey team but again, we're going to battle. We will be known by our work ethic. Bob (Hartley) and I have talked about it. Brian (Burke) and I have talked about it. Guys that don't want to work hard won't be part of it."