The writing was on the wall for Jay Feaster the minute Brian Burke arrived in town.
It was difficult to see how the two were going to work together despite Burke’s conciliatory statements when he arrived on September 5th. Sure enough, Feaster’s two-and-a-half year tenure came to an abrupt end Thursday as the Flames announced he had been relieved of his duties.
That’s a grand total of two months and one week that the Flames gave the dual-GM model a run out. The Flames needed a shake-up, no doubt about it, but one can only imagine the sheer volume of sweat that Feaster produced hearing Brian Burke on the phone in the office next door.
Goodness knows what the decision-making process was for the last two months. Maybe something like this:
Brian Burke: “Hi Jay, we’re going to do this. What do you think?”
Jay Feaster: “Um… I don’t know, Brian. I don’t think…”
Brian Burke: “We’re doing it. Thanks, Jay”.
He was a dead man walking from the moment Burke showed up. He was, effectively, damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. If the Flames had started winning games, you can bet it wouldn’t have been him who got the credit. In reality, they haven’t won games, or at least not enough, and the new guy won’t get the blame for that either.
But the to-ing and fro-ing hasn’t ended with the demise of Feaster. Burke isn’t the new GM, he’s the ‘interim GM’. As a club the Flames have been terribly indecisive in recent years and it clearly hasn’t ended quite yet. Burke is now tasked with finding a new GM. He could do with someone who stamps his authority on a club, makes confident, brave personnel decisions and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Wait a minute…
None of it makes sense. As the press conference Thursday, Burke said he didn’t want the GM job which is nonsense. We all know what Burke is like and the chance to prove he can still cut it as an NHL GM and rub it in the face of his former employers in Toronto (something he specifically said he’d love to do) would be an opportunity he’d relish. But clearly the Flames don’t trust him enough to get the job done and they want someone else with him, which hardly worked brilliantly the last time around.
All of it smacks of a team lacking identity both on the ice and in the front office. For Flames fans it’s uglier than Brian Burke’s new hairdo. You want stability in a hockey club? Stop flip-flopping around and have the balls to appoint one man for the job. Instability will kill you.
Chris is a contributing writer on the Toronto Maple Leafs for THW. From Oxford, England, he writes mainly about hockey and soccer, where he is looking to turn his hobby of sportswriting into a career.