SUN Hockey Pool

Core beliefs for acting Flames GM

Acting Flames GM Jay Feaster watches practice at the Saddledome Thursday. STUART DRYDEN/CALGARY SUN

Acting Flames GM Jay Feaster watches practice at the Saddledome Thursday. STUART DRYDEN/CALGARY SUN

RANDY SPORTAK, Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:31 AM ET

Jay Feaster knows the Calgary Flames need a massive rebuild.

He won’t go as far as to say what kind of tear down it will take first.

A day after being named the club’s acting GM, during which he did nine one-on-one interviews, Feaster stated he has plenty of work to do to make the Flames a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, but said he’s not been ordered to jettison stars such as Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff to do it.

“Ken (King, the Flames president) has never said to me, ‘This is the tear down. You’re the wrecking ball,’ ” Feaster said.

“I’m not a big believer in scorched earth. I candidly don’t think that’s where this hockey team, this organization, is. We have some real, solid, core, key assets that we need to build around and we need to supplement.”

That said, don’t expect Feaster to only tinker between now and the start of the 2011-12 season.

The man given the job after Darryl Sutter was forced to step down — but just in an acting role until his plan of attack is accepted by King and the ownership group — has a heavy workload ahead of him.

The Flames are a veteran team, with nearly a dozen players having various forms of no-trade or no-movement clauses.It will take a smart plan of attack to get the Flames out of the mess they find themselves today, and Feaster is starting to formulate his strategy.

“I know that fans are anxious to know, I know the media is anxious to know, but the reality of it is, there are 29 other teams who would very much like to know what you’re thinking. From a competitive standpoint, that’s not a good thing to do,” he said.

“In that regard, I’m not willing to talk about plans.

“That said, you don’t get asked to take this responsibility and given this opportunity and then not immediately begin to think about the things you want to do. From the time Ken asked me, you immediately put together your list of issues, concerns, things you want to focus on. That list is already in place and being developed on a continuous basis.”

Still, Feaster is willing to divulge a few aspects of how he plans to run the Flames, having learned lessons from nearly six years at the helm of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

One is not to make decisions based on sentiment.

“You get close to players — I believe in that, I like to get close to players and know them as people — but sometimes, you make that decision to sign somebody based on what they have done for you as opposed to what you’re projecting that they might do,” Feaster said.

“One of the things that being out of the game has done for me, I look at things at lot more dispassionately, in terms of the kind of decisions you have to make.”

Another lesson is putting greater emphasis on drafting and developing.

“Not that I didn’t believe it was important then, but you have to make sure your scouting is dead, bang-on and is as top level as it can possibly be,” Feaster said. “We don’t have a second and third (round picks) as we talk right now, and I want to get a second and a third back at a minimum.

“I would very much like to go to the table with as many as we can reasonably have, because that is where we have to go.”

He will divulge what kind of player he prefers. It’s not hard to guess, seeing as he was GM of a team in Tampa which played a speed game and even had slogans such as “safe is death” in the dressing room.

“I love up-tempo. It forces the other team to make mistakes when you have guys that get in there on the forecheck, have guys that are aggressive, defencemen jumping into the play and pinching,” Feaster said.

“I want a team that’s fast, quick, mobile and is team-tough. In the Western Conference, we have to be tough to play against.”

He also has a realistic view of what’s on the farm, which is a far cry from the overselling job Sutter did in regard to the team’s prospects.

“We’re going to have, two-three years down the road, players coming out of Abbotsford and playing for us in Calgary,” said Feaster, who has said the prospects are better than people tend to credit.

“Are we going to have those for us right now, this season? Probably not. Are we going to have them next season? Maybe there’s a pleasant surprise here or there, but realistically, there’s a two-, three-year time frame.”

Then again, if the Flames do go on a winning spree and get into the playoff picture, the speed of the rebuild could change.

“If we go on a run and put ourselves in a solid playoff position, then we’re saying ‘OK, what do we realistically think we need to solidify where we are in the seeding or to win in the playoffs?’ And then it comes down to the price. If it’s a case of getting in and maybe win one round, but have to trade a this year’s first-round pick or next year’s second-round pick, that’s not something I believe in,” he said.

“We want to win now, but we also want to make sure we can win for a long time and compete at a high level. If we keep trading away draft picks, it makes it that much more difficult.”


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