Jay Feaster: Acting to be or not to be?

Jay Feaster, or Harry Jay Feaster to his mother, is primed to be the next general manger of the Calgary Flames.

Feaster’s history with the game of hockey began in 1988 when he was a lawyer with McNees, Wallace, & Nurrick. He was assigned to deal with Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company who, by chance, owned the Hershey Bears of the AHL. To make a long story short, he joined the team soon after as the assistant to the team president and in 1990 was named the general manager. He was with the Bears for eight years and won AHL Executive of the Year in 1997 after the Bears won the Calder Cup.

He joined the Tampa Bay Lightning as the assistant GM in 1998 behind Jacques Demers taking over the contracts and legal matters for the team. In 2002, he was promoted to GM of the team. In 2004, they won the Stanley Cup. He was with the Lightning until 2008 when he was sick of the new owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules and resigned with three years left on his contract.

In 2010 he was hired as the Assistant GM of the Flames. On December 28th, 2010, he was named acting GM of the team.

This brings us to now. No decision has been made on whether or not to strip the “Acting” tag off his name. Flames brass says they are going to wait until the Stanley Cup is awarded. I think this is crock of you know what as the decision has already been made in my mind.

But is Feaster the right man for the job?

Let’s look at his drafting record.

With fifty four drafts picks from 2002 to 2007, can you guess how many core players (top six forward, top four defence, number one goalie) Feaster drafted for the Lightning?

That answer is ZERO.

What about regular everyday NHL’ers? Maybe three. Dana Tyrell, Mike Lundin, Nick Tarnasky and throw in Paul Ranger. Stunning.Heck, Darryl Sutter at least had Phaneuf. Now, you can quite possibly blame scouting for that, but the onus should and always does fall on the man in charge.

What about his trading history? This year, all he did was ship a 7th rounder to Atlanta for Freddy Modin. Feaster said to that mistake: “a guy that I had hoped would come in and fill in, that didn’t happen either.” Not the biggest deal in the world, but not a good start.

In 2002, he traded his first round pick, which turned out to Joni Pitkanen, for Ruslan Fedotenko and two second round picks. The risk paid off as Fedotenko was a key part of the 04’ cup team. He acquired Darryl Sydor at the 04’ deadline for Alex Svitov and a pick. It turned out Sydor was the veteran presence the team needed on the back end. In 2006, he traded Modin and Fredrick Norrena to Columbus for Marc Denis, who he thought would replace John Grahame. Denis lasted all of a season and a half in Tampa.

He traded Brad Richards to Dallas for Jeff Halpern, Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and fourth round pick. He resigned five months later. That was a horrible trade anyway you look at it, but the cash strapped Lightning at the time had to shed some salary and Lecavalier and St. Louis were not going anywhere.

So is he the right man to guide the Flames ship to success?

I’m not totally sold on him, but what I do like is the change in atmosphere he brings to the team from the tough Sutter days. Since coming on as Acting GM, the team’s record has blossomed. How much of that is Feaster is debatable. He made some smart moves getting Conroy to retire, but keeping his insight in the press box. Burying Kotalik was a long time coming and much needed to give this team any sort of flexibility.

Basically he was, and likely will be, in charge of cleaning up huge pile horse manure that Sutter had left for him.

What I think might happen is Feaster will be named GM and another couple of “hockey minds” will be hired by the team to assist him. Nowadays, succesful teams have groups of management running their franchises. Take Chicago as an example who has a small army running their team.

The Flames have made steps towards that by shifted some people in the front office and making Michael Holditch the Senior Vice Pres and Assistant GM. Then they made Conroy the Special Assistant to the GM. Mike Burke (Director of Hockey Operations) and Duane Sutter (Director of Player Personnel) have remained in their positions. I’d expect others to be named shortly. I’d expect, or i hope, they hire a couple more “hockey minds” to assist with the proceedings.

My prediction is that Feaster is named GM sometime in May. The draft is the end of June and the Flames can’t give a new guy coming in one week to prepare for something like that. The team is just delaying the inevitable in my mind.

Harry Jay Feaster, the stage is soon to be yours. Don’t screw it up.



George Prax's picture

I'm on the fence about what to make of Feaster. He obviously wasn't cast in the best light when he left Tampa, and yes the Richards' deal was terrible, but there was only so much he could do in that regard because of their financial issues. Drafting, again, I'm on the fence about, because it's just as much the scouting department's responsibility as it is the GM's. If the team can't afford better people then what can you do? But in the end, that's why companies have managers, so they can be responsible for these sort of things, and Feaster has to own up to that. Obviously the time he was given this season in Calgary wasn't enough, and the Modin deal may have been a bad one but it was a low risk deal. Would you rather he make a bigger deal for a Kaberle or another such rental only to miss the playoffs? He definitely deserves a season to show Flames fans what he can do.

The draft should be interesting.