In Calgary, Eric Francis reports the Flames yesterday confirmed that they are "looking to expand their hockey operations department," and NHL VP/Player Safety & Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan is "one of the possible hires the club has talked to." However, team President & CEO Ken King "insists any such move will be made entirely with an eye on bolstering the club’s front-office braintrust and will not come at a cost of either his or [GM] Jay Feaster’s job or responsibilities." Francis writes Flames fans "surprised by the news should find it a pleasant one as bolstering the front office is yet another sign the owners are committed to turning the club's fortunes around" (CALGARY SUN, 6/18).
MESSAGE RECEIVED: In Toronto, Doug Smith writes Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tim Leiweke has fired Raptors Player Development Dir Alvin Williams in "a terribly short-sighted move that will rankle as many people as anything he does." Leiweke has "jettisoned one of the great guys ever associated with the franchise and a man who wanted nothing more than to spend his entire career with the organization in some way, shape or form." Williams, who had "spent last season scouting for the team" based out of Philadelphia, "loved the organization and the city." Smith writes "as messages go," the Raptors "just sent a crappy one." Smith: "And people will notice" (TORONTOSTAR.com, 6/17).
APOCALYPSE NOW? In N.Y., Mike Puma reports NBC's Bob Costas yesterday called Mets VP/Media Relations Jay Horwitz "to say he meant no harm" by comments during the net's U.S. Open coverage in which he "lambasted the Mets for celebrating [CF] Kirk Nieuwenhuis' game-ending homer against the Cubs" on Sunday. Costas said of the celebration, "Another indication of the ongoing decline of Western civilization" (N.Y. POST, 6/18).