Burke throws support behind Hartley, Conroy
But Bob Hartley doesn’t need to peek over his shoulder after GM Jay Feaster and assistant general manager John Weisbrod were relieved of their duties by Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke on Thursday.
“There will be no further changes,” Burke said. “I’m very happy with the coaching staff. I think sometimes when you make a change like this, the instantaneous reaction is ‘okay, 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.”
Hartley’s Flames haven’t overwhelmed in the standings this year. They’ve put together a 11-15-4 record through the first third of the season after finishing 13th in the Western Conference a year ago.
But the coach has gotten more out of his rebuilding Flames roster than many expected to see.
“I really think this team has been the hardest working team in the National Hockey League this year,” Burke said. “I'm really proud of that.”
Despite Burke’s praise, Hartley knows there are no guarantees in hockey.
“We're all aware of the risk and the dangers of our jobs, but it's the nature, also, of our business,” Hartley said, referring to Feaster’s release. “It's the matter of a new boss comes in town, he has his beliefs, and stuff like this, and he makes the decisions.”
But Feaster or no Feaster, a new general manager doesn’t change what Calgary is trying to accomplish with the on-ice product, Hartley declared.
“I think I've always had a pretty good relationship with Brian over the years, and when he came in, he told me that he likes the way we play,” said the coach, hired by Feaster 18 months ago. “This morning, he told me (that) again, but at the same time, it doesn't change my job.
“We have a great coaching staff and we have players that want to win and want to work. It doesn't really change our day-to-day operation.”
Burke also threw his support behind Craig Conroy, who serves as special assistant to the general manager position and oversees the day-to-day operations of the Abbotsford Heat.
“Conroy's not going anywhere,” Burke said. “I’m not promoting anyone today, either. This is a case where we’re make due with what we have until we sort this out but there will be no other changes. I think the job they gave Craig, he’s doing very well. He’s a natural teacher. I think it’s a great fit for him. I think the future’s bright for Connie but I don’t plan on making any changes.”
Burke ruled out Conroy as a potential candidate to fill the vacant position left behind by Feaster’s dismissal, at least temporarily.
“Some day he’s going to be (a general manager),” Burke said. “That’s a guy whose going to be a general manager and maybe he’s a candidate for the (assistant GM) job here, but we haven’t got that far. This all just happened this morning.”