SUN Hockey Pool

Flames ink starter

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

To some, building an expansion team would seem a daunting task.

To Doug Soetaert, it's old hat.

Soetaert was there as head coach and director of hockey operations when the puck dropped for the IHL's Kansas City Blades in the fall of 1990.

Year 2, when he'd been moved upstairs -- eventually into the GM chair -- the Blades claimed the Turner Cup as league champs.

Soetaert was also there for the start-up of the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

In fact, he was GM a year before the team even hit the ice, scouting the loop and finding players. The Silvertips ended their inaugural campaign in the league final.

Now the former NHL goalkeeper is at it again, joining the Flames organization to serve as president of the Omaha Knights -- the AHL affiliate which will debut next season. He'll also act as assistant to Flames GM Darryl Sutter.

"This is a very exciting day for me and my family, joining the Calgary Flames organization and returning to the Midwest," Soetaert said.

Soetaert's NHL career included stops with the New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens, with whom he won a Stanley Cup in 1986.

He spent 11 seasons in Kansas City, then three more in Everett.

A product of Ardrossan, Alta., Soetaert played against members of the Sutter clan growing up.

His Blades team served as San Jose's farm team for years, including a couple of seasons when Darryl Sutter was head coach of the Sharks.

"I got to know him and admired what he gets out of his players and how he does his business," Soetaert said.

As president of the Knights, Soetaert will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the squad, including marketing, ticketing, community relations as well as promotion of the game at the grassroots level.

As Calgary's assistant GM, he'll oversee the hockey operations of the AHL franchise, including player development and scouting.

Sutter, who coached against Soetaert in the IHL, said his wealth of experience will be a huge asset to the franchise.

"He has an in-depth understanding of the relationship between business operations and successful hockey administration," Sutter said in a statement.

"Doug has won both as a player and an executive at the professional level and we look forward to his contribution to our organization."

Under Soetaert's tenure with the Blades -- which were owned by Calgary's Russ Parker -- the likes of Mike Rathje, Michal Pivonka, Arturs Irbe and Sandis Ozolinsh developed into NHLers.

There can be no doubt his first front-office job at the NHL level has come after paying his dues but Soetaert wouldn't say if his long-term goal is to take over as a GM with the league.

"The only thing I look at is the job at hand," he said.

"My job is to help Darryl and the Calgary Flames win a Stanley Cup and develop players."


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