Flames make management changes
CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod have been relieved of their duties effective immediately, the team announced Thursday.
The Flames are 13th in the Western Conference this season with an 11-15-4 record and haven't qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2008-09 season.
Though the team is in the infancy of a rebuild kicked off last spring after trading franchise face and longtime captain Jarome Iginla, Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke said change wasn't coming quickly enough for his satisfaction.
"I'm not a patient person," Burke said. "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.
"This is all about having a parade. It seems very distant on a day like today. Our team's struggling. We're near the bottom of the standings and the guy is standing up here talking about titles and people are saying, 'Man, this guy needs a urine test,' but that's what this is about.
"I wouldn't come here if that wasn't the ultimate goal, and I have to look at the steps that have been taken and figure out the best way for us to get on that path, and I reached the conclusion we need to make this change."
Feaster joined the Flames in June 2010 as assistant general manager. He was named acting general manager on Dec. 28, 2010 and on May 16, 2011 was named the general manager of the team. He won the Stanley Cup as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.
"Jay's a good man and he did his best here," said Burke, who also served as GM with the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers. "He's a good person and his fingerprints are going to be on this team for many years. Players that he brought here like Sean Monahan and other players so I want to thank Jay for his hard work here and wish him well in the future."
Feaster just couldn't bring the future to Calgary fast enough for Burke, who joined the team in September.
Burke's appointment came almost nine months to the day after he was dismissed as general manager by the Toronto Maple Leafs, a position he held for five years.
Feaster's dismissal comes just 30 games into Burke's tenure with the Flames.
"My job when I came here was to assess the organization," Burke said. "I spent the first 60 days essentially reviewing the track record of the team in terms of trading and drafting, evaluating the staff, evaluating the players, evaluating the farm team and reach the conclusion making a report to (president and chief executive officer) Ken King and to the ownership group regarding my conclusions and where I thought we needed to go as a team to take the next step. My conclusion was that we needed to make a change to get to the next level, and that's why today we took the steps we took and the search has begun."
Burke has no timetable to put a permanent GM in place.
"My plan would be to be patient until we see how long it takes to get the guy that we want in here," he said. "It's not that simple that I just go meet this guy in an airport and interview him. We'd want the owners to meet him. We want Ken to be comfortable with him. So that could take a little longer. In the meantime, if we can do something to improve the team, I'll do it."
The successful candidate will require a key prerequisite. He will need to share Burke's vision on how a successful hockey club is built.
And to Burke, it starts with truculence.
"I think that you need a blueprint and you need a determination to assemble a team a certain way and that's what this GM's going to have to have, not because it's Brian Burke's view on life that we like big hockey or hard hockey, but that's what wins in our League," said Burke, who won the Cup using a similar formula with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. "That's the first thing. That person has to share that blueprint. We want black-and-blue hockey here. That's what we do in Alberta. That's the first thing. We've got to be big and more truculent. I want a little more hostility out there than I'm seeing right now."
It continues with draft savvy.
"We're going to need some expertise in terms of draft positioning, where we are and where we're going to pick," Burke said. "That should be obvious. We've got to make sure we get these picks right. That's the only rainbow when you have a tough year. You've got to get those picks right. It's not optional.
"In a hard cap system, when you have a bad year you get a high pick. You've got to hit home runs and Jay did last year with Monahan, but that's one part of this management team that comes in, these two people are going to have to have expertise in that area."
Burke indicated the next general manager will name Weisbrod's successor. It's the only personnel change to follow a new GM, he said. That means there will be no further moves in the front office and the team's coach, Bob Hartley, and his staff will finish out the year.
"I'm very happy with the coaching staff," Burke said. "I think sometimes when you make a change like this, the instantaneous reaction is 'OK, who's next?' There will be no further changes. The coaching staff, front office staff, training staff, even if a new GM comes in, these coaches are going to coach this team through the year. I promised them that. I'm very happy with how the team works. I'm very happy with the job the coaching staff has done."