SUN Hockey Pool

'Big-time weird' return for Feaster

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:12 AM ET

TAMPA - The St. Pete Times Forum was Jay Feaster’s second home for a decade.

Still, there were some odd feelings walking into the building Thursday as GM of the Calgary Flames.

“I asked, ‘Are we allowed to come in and go to the left and come by the Lightning locker-room or is the (John) Tortorella rule still in effect and we have to take the long way around (to the visitors’ room)?’ ” Feaster said with a laugh.

The Flames visit marked the first time Feaster returned to Tampa as a GM of another team.

The Lightning showed a video montage with Feaster and on the big screen it said, “Thanks for the memories, Jay.”

Feaster joined the Lightning organization as assistant GM in 1998, became GM in February 2002, oversaw the Lightning to their 2004 Stanley Cup title and then resigned in 2008 under the spectre of the team’s bizarre era when Oren Koules and Len Barrie were owners.

“Big-time weird,” he said of the feelings.

Feaster was greeted by a steady stream of fans on his way from the hotel to the arena, and it was a non-stop parade of people looking forward to say hello once he was inside the building.

Although he was on the other side of the fence, Feaster is happy to see the organization has successfully moved beyond the chaotic days with its current ownership.

“What the organization went through, what the people inside the organization went through in those two years, I don’t wish that on my worst enemy,” Feaster said.

“The toughest part was seeing what that did to the people. To have good people running this thing, in good hands, I’m thrilled for the fans, for the players and, most importantly, for the staff.”

About the only drawback from his move to the Stampede City is the family cat still hasn’t adjusted to the cold weather Calgary has, especially in comparison to Tampa.

“It’s the litter box probably through May. The cat’s still sour, for sure,” he said.

IN THE CORNERS

The first episode of the HBO series 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic drew rave reviews from the players who tuned in Wednesday night.

“I even got a couple chills watching all that,” said Tampa Bay Lightning centre Steven Stamkos. “From a sports fan’s perspective, it’s really cool for fans to see the behind-the-scenes stuff. They don’t get to see the things said on the ice or how hard guys get hit or you’re icing your shoulder on the plane after the game, the physical demands.

“It’s great for the game. I can’t wait to watch the next episode.”

“It shows the human sides of hockey players, which I think gets missed,” agreed Flames forward Lee Stempniak.

“I think people look at you ... just as a hockey player and not that you have a life and don’t really do anything outside of hockey. I think it does a good job of putting the human side on a lot of things. It’s great.”

Stamkos admitted he’d love to be on the show, and did make a cameo when the Lightning reacted harshly to Rangers forward Artem Anisimov using his stick as a shotgun and reloading it.

After the game, Anisimov apologized to his teammates, since his antics fired up the Lightning and they pulled out a comeback win.

“It was really cool to see how his reaction was to his teammates and in the dressing room, how sincere his apology was,” Stamkos said.

“That maybe makes you look at that whole issue on a different level. You wouldn’t have been able to see that if it wasn’t on the show.”

OFF THE GLASS

This the third time Calgary has returned to Tampa since the 2004 Stanley Cup final series, and the wounds are still there for Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, the last two remaining Flames. “When you come and sit in the dressing room, it brings back some memories,” Iginla said. “Some good, some tough ones.” ... Expect Leland Irving, the Flames’ 2006 first-round draft choice to make his NHL debut in Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers. Coach Brent Sutter wouldn’t flat-out say Irving will play, but said: “You’ve got to look at your schedule (for) which is the best game not for Kipper to play and get the amount of rest he needs. If you were going to the casino tonight and you were wagering money on it, buddy, you’d probably make a hell of a lot.”


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