Jay Feaster fired as GM of Flames
President of hockey ops Brian Burke is acting GM
Brian Burke spelled it out for the Calgary Flames media and those around the hockey world on Sept. 5: “I’m not the general manager of the Calgary Flames.”
While he became the National Hockey League team's acting GM on Thursday after GM Jay Feaster and his assistant, John Weisbrod, were shown the door, the search for Feaster's successor has already begun.
Burke, who said he has received permission to speak with one GM candidate, is the Flames' president of hockey operations with a long history as an NHL GM, most recently with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Burke felt Thursday's moves needed to be made to get the franchise back on track as it tries to pursue a championship.
"I wouldn't have come here if that wasn't the ultimate goal," he said. "I have to look at the steps that have been taken and figure out what's the best way for us to get on that path.
"And I reached the conclusion that we needed to make this change."
Burke said there would be no further changes with the team, saying: "I'm very happy with the coaching staff."
Head coach Bob Hartley and assistants Jacques Cloutier and Martin Gelinas have guided the Flames to a 11-15-4 record and 13th-place standing in the NHL's 14-team Western Conference.
"If you look at our record, it's not where we want to be and we have to change it as players," said Flames captain Mark Giordano. "You could call it whatever, but the bottom line is this: as an organization, I've been here for a while now, and right from our owners down, we want to win.
"Nothing else is acceptable. We've got to start winning hockey games and push this forward."
Burke said it was tough to fire Feaster, who he called a friend. But he said potentially unpopular decisions come with the job.
"I'm not kissing babies up here," he said. "I'm not running for office. This is about winning hockey games. And I have to take the steps that I think are going to lead us to win the most hockey games we can win."
"I'm frustrated like all our fans with our inability to hold leads," said Burke, whose team has scored just 79 goals in 30 games and has allowed 100 goals, fourth-most in the NHL. "We decided what we were doing wasn't going to get us there [in the post-season] as fast as we want."
Calgary hasn't competed in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2009.
Burke's grey locks, normally neatly combed back with a part on one side, were much puffier than usual on Thursday.
Burke's kids, Molly and Patrick, noticed his slightly dishevelled look and took to Twitter to comment on their father's appearance at the news conference.
Molly's tweet had been retweeted over 500 times and favourited over 250 times in just a few hours.
The Flames hired Feaster on July 8, 2010, as an assistant to GM Darryl Sutter.
Sutter left that role later that year on Dec. 28 and Feaster was named acting GM. He was promoted to the GM’s role on May 16, 2011.
"We wish Jay the best," said forward Matt Stajan. "He's a great man, he did a lot for the guys in that room. It's too bad we didn't show better on the ice but we've got to keep grinding here and find a way to win games."
Feaster arrived in Calgary having been out of the NHL’s managerial ranks for nearly two years, but he was GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won the 2004 Cup final over the Flames.
The married father of five was named GM of the Lightning in February 2002 and besides the Cup title watched the team win back-to-back Southwest Division titles in 2003 and 2004.
Feaster spent three seasons as assistant GM of the Lightning prior to his promotion.
In the American Hockey League, Feaster spent nine years with the Hershey Bears in the 1990s as a president and GM, leading the team to a division title in 1994 and a Calder Cup championship in 1997, the same season he was named AHL executive of the year.
With files from The Canadian Press