Former Tampa Bay Lightning GM Jay Feaster takes the assistant GM job with the Flames
Former Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Jay Feaster always said he wanted to get back to the NHL. He did on Thursday, signing a three-year deal (with a club option for a fourth) with the Calgary Flames to be the assistant general manager.
Feaster, 47, who led the Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship, said just getting back into the game is the biggest thing, and he doesn't feel he took a step back signing on as an assistant to Darryl Sutter. Feaster, who said he is moving his family to Calgary, though he will keep his Tampa-area home, was good enough to call after talking to the Calgary media.
"It's a long-term proposition for them," Feaster said of the Flames. "It's not a short-term view. It's not, 'Let’s flip this thing. Let's sell it.' They talk about succession planning. They talk about people being with the organization for a long period of time, so from that standpoint I've made a comitment to them. … I'm happy to spend the rest of my career with the Calgary Flames. I appreciate the opportunity they’re giving me and the commitment they’re making, and I’m making a commitment back to them. From my standpoint, this isn’t a stepping stone. I want to contribute to that organization having success and winning the Stanley Cup."
Feaster said he will travel with the team and be a liason between the players and coaches and management. He also will have input on player personnel decisions and help negotiate contracts. Feaster kept his hand in the game in the two years since he resigned as Lightning GM when it was obvious then-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie did not want his counsel. He did personal scouting and could be found in the St. Pete Times Forum press box. He did some television commentary and also wrote for various publications and web sites.
About coming in as an assistant rather than running his own team, Feaster, Tampa Bay's GM from 2002-08, said it is a non-issue.
"It’s funny," Feaster said. "When Darryl and I first met, he said one of the reasons he wanted to meet with me was he wanted to satisfy himself I was willing to be an AGM. As a I told him, I wouldn't be willing to do it just anywhere and for just anyone. I’m at a position in my life where having managed my own team, and having had success doing it, it isn’t only about saying I'm in the National Hockey League, and that’s what’s exciting here. As I told him, I would rather be in a situation where I'm an AGM and have a chance to win the Stanley Cup, and win it more than once, as an AGM than to say I'm a GM somewhere but it’s a franchise that doesnt have any money or doesn't have ownership that’s committed or doesn’t have a fan base. You can be an AGM and not have much responsibility. Darryl, in presenting this positon to me, is doing just the opposite. He wants me to step up and have responsibility and be his partner."
Feaster said he always will carry his time in Tampa with him.
"Oh, yeah. The experience in Tampa was great up until the end. But even now, I really believe (owner) Jeff Vinik is going to do great things. I look at the way he went about it. He brings in Steve Yzerman, an instant shot of credibility in the marketplace, and Steve goes out and hires the up-and-coming coach (Guy Boucher). I think good things are going to happen. That’s what I feel good about. Jeff Vinik was great to me and treated me well, so it's about forgetting those two years and focusing on the previous time and focusing on what's going forward because I think it's going to be good stuff."
For Feaster as well.
"It's incredible," he said of being back in the league. "To be back and to to be with an organization I consider to be a first-class organization from top to bottom, and with a manager I respect as much as I respect Darryl, it's pretty exciting."
We wish him the best.