It remains to be seen if Jay Feaster will turn out to be a Cliff Fletcher or a Doug Risebrough in the very short list of Calgary Flames GMs, only 6 GMs have existed in the entire franchise's history, including the Atlanta years.
How he will rank in-between the Silver Fox, the best GM in franchise history to the worst one, that guy who dealt Doug Gilmour to the Leafs is unknown.
Feaster is walking a tight rope. He is tasked with the tough and not enviable job of keeping the team competitive AND slowly bringing in better youth and prospects, something you might want to term a "soft" rebuild when compared against the full nuclear option that the Oilers have embraced.
In the world of simple minded fans this is almost like a paradox that can not be comprehended, like saying round square or married bachelor.
The play of Miikka Kiprusoff is masking the true rebuilding state of the team that is already underway. The Flames prospects widely thought to be weak, unable to take NHL ice, and the often repeated comment that the Flames prospect cupboard is bare have really proven to have been false statements.
A significant number of Flames games have been played this year by AHL players called up from the Heat. While they have not run over the competition like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, they have been fairly successful in the sense they are not making many mistakes and have been part of the Flames being where they are in the standings. They are doing their job defensively and postionally and holding their own, that is admirable in itself.
Feaster lit a fire under the fan base with his interview yesterday. It seemed to require follow-up today and it is well worth watching. The links are after the jump. I know it is early to state at this point but I have been generally speaking been behind Feaster's moves.
I also appreciate the frank comments in these interviews.
Feaster is such a stark contrast to Darryl Sutter, who despised the media so much that at the end it almost became upside down land.
If he said a player wasn't going to be traded, he often was the next week. He did not speak clearly and he mumbled often. It was the myth of the brilliant eccentric, the savant syndrome, something the entire Flames organization and the City of Calgary itself bought into, In Sutter We Trust, was a oft-repeated cliche, we may not understand it but he knows what he is doing.
Flames fans will always be grateful for the rebirth of hockey passion in the city but Darryl Sutter did not turn out to be Rain Man, he was allowed to seriously damage the team. He made a lucky trade to acquire a single player (Kipper) who took the team into the playoffs and for years after one had to look closely at his moves. He went off the rails, some say with the Phx Jokinen trade, others pick the Phaneuf Leafs trade as the starting point and all that came after.
Feaster is the exact opposite in disposition, clearly an intelligent man, clearly spoken, humorous, passionate and a man who has already publicly declared he will be running the team collaboratively. Gone is the "Darryl knows all" days.
Feaster has to speak to a broad audience here in these interviews, all types of Flames fans from the most informed to the most casual. His style is great, I think he strikes the right balance between being passionate and serious to relaxed.
Everyone should also be fully aware that he is the front man on a larger team, not a one man show. Feaster has a task assigned to him and he is going to get the people in place he feels will do the best job, he is open to advice and it remains to be seen if the Flames GM transition from the one man has all power to the collaborative decision making of Feaster will work.
No matter how I may personally like Feaster's interview style, evaluating him will come down to the quality of the decisions his team makes through him. Some suggest he should have fired Brent Sutter when NHL coaches heads were rolling all over the NHL in December. A decision was made not to.
His trades and movements have been the making the best of a bad situation with the Tim Erixon debacle which he had no control over to the clear win in the Blair Jones trade and tough trades that were part of cleaning up Darryl Sutter's mess like packaging in a toxic asset like Ales Kotalik in the Regehr trade.
Time will tell on Feaster but regardless these frank interviews are clear communication to the fan base that is refreshing and appreciated as many wonder and dearly care about the future of the team. They need to hear from the GM.
Feaster Feb 24th Interview
Feaster Open Media Access (Feb 24th, 2012)