SBD/December 13, 2013/Franchises

Flames Oust GM Feaster, But Burke Adamant He Does Not Want The Job

Feaster's departure was expected by many in the media after Burke's arrival
The Flames on Thursday fired GM Jay Feaster, but President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke was "adamant" that he "doesn’t want the job," according to Wes Gilbertson of the CALGARY SUN. Burke said, “I’m going to serve as acting general manager until a new GM is hired, but that search has already begun. I did not come here to be the general manager." Burke on Thursday reiterated that "only the personnel has changed," and the plan for the Flames "hasn't been altered." Burke: "I’m not going to welsh on that deal now and say all of a sudden, ‘Aha! Now, I want to be the GM.’ It would certainly cast some suspicion on my motives in making this change, too, if I announced today I’m the new GM -- ‘Well, then did you really give Jay a fair chance?’ Because I think I did.” Not long after Thursday’s announcement, which also included the dismissal of Assistant GM John Weisbrod, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Burke has been "granted permission" by the Stars to speak with former GM Joe Nieuwendyk, who is "still technically under contract to the team." Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the GM and former Flames player Craig Conroy "will continue in his role with the Flames but is not being considered for Feaster's old post" (CALGARY SUN, 12/13). THE HOCKEY NEWS' Rory Boylen noted Nieuwendyk was Stars GM from '09 until the end of the '12-13 season. Nieuwendyk seems like the "type of pick up the Flames would do well with." It would be a hiring Flames fans "could immediately get on board with and be similar" to what the Sabres did in hiring HOFer Pat LaFontaine as President of Hockey Operations (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 12/12).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: In Calgary, Eric Francis notes Burke had "recently finished his extensive evaluation of the organization, determined the leadership and direction of the organization needed to change and made the recommendation to ownership." Burke saw "no wisdom in prolonging the inevitable." Burke: "As soon as this decision was reached and sold to ownership, I wanted it done." He added, "I'd rather do it now than in 10 days. And second, there’s another team doing a search. Time could be of vital essence here." Francis notes the Sabres also are "deep into a search for their next GM so there’s competition out there for those potentially on Burke’s wish list" (CALGARY SUN, 12/13). Also in Calgary, George Johnson writes, "Was Thursday’s announcement surprising? Yes, the timing. But no. Not really. As soon as Burke was hired here, most onlookers instantly moved the beleaguered Feaster from the general prison population onto Death Row. ... You can chalk Weisbrod, a Feaster ally, up as collateral damage" (CALGARY HERALD, 12/13).

BRIAN'S SONG: In Vancouver, Ed Willies writes the "minute Burke was given sweeping powers to remake the Flames' organization, the only question was when, not if, Feaster was gone." Feaster "inherited an unholy mess in Calgary," and his "one sin was starting the organizational overhaul a year too late." But "no one could have cleaned up the oil spill Feaster stepped into in Calgary" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 12/13). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Duhatschek writes there was a "strong sense if Burke was really going to run the show in Calgary, he would ultimately want it to feature his hand-picked supporting cast" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/13). In Vancouver, Cam Cole writes, "Who among us didn't check the calendar and nod knowingly when the Flames called a news conference to make an organizational announcement Thursday?" Cole: "Who really thought, when Burke was hired by the team in September, that he was going to get all the way to Christmas before the top of his head blew off in exasperation at the slow pace of change?" (VANCOUVER SUN, 12/13).

ONE DIRECTION: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote the Sabres are a "terrible team and have become untethered, drifting further and further away from a long-suffering fan base." LaFontaine is "tasked with remooring the Sabres and, to that end, has been interviewing clients for the GM opening created when longtime GM Darcy Regier was fired." It is a "crucial hire, and from all reports, LaFontaine is being methodical in his search." Burnside: "Ditto for Burke." It "doesn’t necessarily mean that Burke and LaFontaine are going after the same people but rather they are looking for people who will produce the same result: restoring direction to franchises that have been without one" (ESPN.com, 12/12).
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