Brendan Shanahan candidate for Calgary Flames front-office job

Flames President and CEO Ken King says the Flames are looking to make a new front-office hire in...

Flames President and CEO Ken King says the Flames are looking to make a new front-office hire in the near future. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:58 AM ET

CALGARY - The Calgary Flames confirmed Monday they are, indeed, looking to expand their hockey operations department, and Brendan Shanahan is one of the possible hires the club has talked to.

However, team president and CEO Ken King insists any such move will be made entirely with an eye on bolstering the club’s front-office braintrust and will not come at a cost of either his or Jay Feaster’s job or responsibilities.

“This is not a death watch,” King told the Calgary Sun Monday following a weekend of speculation and reports revolving around the Flames pending hire.

“I can tell you we are now on a long-term process to add depth to our hockey operations. We want to get back to where we should be, and this is something we think is consistent with that. We have a GM, and Jay is involved in this process. He and his group are firmly entrenched in one of the most important drafts for this organization certainly in the last 20 years, maybe ever. We have the utmost confidence in their abilities.”

Flames fans surprised by the news should find it a pleasant one as bolstering the front office is yet another sign the owners are committed to turning the club’s fortunes around. By employing yet another respected hockey mind, the internal debates on how the club should proceed with draft picks, free agents, trades and signings should be infinitely healthier than when Darryl Sutter ran things autonomously.

“We are looking to add as many resources as possible to help us get back to winning,” King said.

“We’ve been thinking about this and talking a lot about it for some time. A hallmark of this ownership group is providing resources — whether it’s spending to the cap or otherwise — to do whatever it takes to win.”

Other than confirming the Flames had chatted with Sheriff Shanny, the league’s current Director of Player Safety (disciplinarian), King refused to comment on specific candidates like former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, NHL Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell or NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider.

“I spoke with Brendan Shanahan and I’ve spoken with other people,” said King, who added the new hire’s title has yet to be determined, as there is still some latitude as to what his responsibilities would include.

“We are looking to identify people who can add depth to our organization.”

It’s the type of move several other teams began making years ago, beefing up their hockey hierarchy with additional bodies to help oversee player personnel, player development and hockey operations in general, which aren’t included in the team’s salary cap.

The Flames identified drafting as one of their weakest links years ago and have poured plenty of additional dollars and resources towards improving it the last few years. Signs of a payoff will hopefully start to become evident at the June 30 draft in New Jersey where the Flames have an unprecedented three first-round picks.

King wouldn’t comment on an Elliotte Friedman report suggesting the Flames offered all three first round picks to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for the first-overall pick.

King, who would have preferred the process be kept under wraps until a hire was announced, wouldn’t put a timeline on when someone would be added to his staff, insisting “we have not decided who we want.”

King denied a report suggesting that, with the new hire overseeing the hockey department, he’d step away from running the organization in any way to focus on spearheading the club’s upcoming push to build a new arena.

He will continue to oversee the franchise and act as the conduit between the owners and the ever-expanding sports empire run by the Flames. He has spent the last four years heading up the team’s plans for a new downtown arena and entertainment complex that will undoubtedly be unveiled in the very near future.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis


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