Jay Feaster has plenty of experience sparring.
The new Calgary Flames assistant GM had to become good at it while in the GM’s office with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
This squad needs it.
A perception exists throughout the hockey world too few people within the Flames organization will disagree with GM Darryl Sutter.
Feaster has a willingness to butt heads.
“He can’t have a harder head than John Tortorella did? It can’t be,” a grinning Feaster said of Sutter. “I think it’s important you’re able to disagree and you’re able to put your opinions out there. At the end of the day, Darryl’s the boss — he’s the manager.
“But it’s important as a member of the organization and a member of the staff that I can put that opinion out there and disagree with him, and if it’s something I feel very strongly about, I can disagree with him passionately.
“But, it’s the loyal opposition. It’s important once we make a decision that we’re together.”
Feaster, hired earlier this month, met with media for the first time Tuesday.
Most assistant GM jobs mean coping with the salary cap or dealing with the minor-league team’s contracts.
Sutter said he wanted to hire a “partner in hockey” and turned to Feaster because of his experience running an NHL squad.
Feaster resigned from the Lightning two years ago, during what’s been a few years of turmoil for the 2004 champs — who beat the Flames in the final series.
Here, he knows he has a unique role. Among his duties, he will be a sounding board for Sutter. Likely a voice of question, too.
Feaster doesn’t mind playing that part. In fact, he said it’s a reason the job was so tantalizing.
“I like old-school guys.
I like guys who are honest — tell you up-front exactly what they’re thinking,” Feaster said. “That’s the way John Tortorella and I operated, and that’s exactly what you have in Darryl. All of those things combined made it very attractive.”
Feaster will also be a point-man for the club’s professional scouting department and will travel regularly with the team.
“It is more of being with Darryl from a hockey perspective and offering my opinion and offering my take on things, hockey-wise,” Feaster said. “I said I was going to make Darryl more media-friendly. I’m not sure that’s going to happen. The great part of it is Darryl is comfortable with me talking to the media. I recognize the media has a job to do and have always felt that way.
“I would rather have to answer the questions and have to explain what we’re thinking, give you a sense of what we’re thinking — and you may walk away saying, ‘They’re all wet’ — than have you wondering.”
The first big order of business for Feaster will be to find a contract for restricted free-agent defenceman Ian White.
The club would prefer to negotiate a new deal, but right now, it appears they’re headed to arbitration next week.
“Our thing right now is we’re preparing to go to (arbitration),” Feaster said.
“In a perfect world, we’d rather not. We’ve done the homework — both for the arbitration case and just where we see the salary ought to be — and we’re apart.
“I know right now, I’m planning on being in Toronto (for the arbitration hearing).”