Burke/Feaster dynamic faces unique test with Flames

Thursday, 09.05.2013 / 4:48 PM
Aaron Vickers  - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are turning to Brian Burke to help with their rebuilding effort.

The longtime hockey executive on Thursday was named Calgary's president of hockey operations, a new position that will have the former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager oversee the on-ice element of the Flames.

But, as Burke clearly stated, that does not make him the new general manager.

"I'm not the general manager of the Calgary Flames. Jay Feaster is," Burke said. "Jay and I have been friends a long time. We met this morning, we talked about how to make this work, we're both committed to winning."

Co-existing shouldn't be a problem from the duo, which goes back to when Feaster served as the team and arena general manager for the Hershey Bears.

In fact, Burke may have helped Feaster land his first NHL job with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I was called by [then Lightning GM] Jacques Demers and he said, 'I want to hire this guy, but he hasn't played hockey. He's really bright,'" Burke said. "I said, 'You're talking about Jay Feaster.' When he said it was, I said hire him.

"I think he has a lot of ability, we have a good friendship and I think this can work."

The Burke-Feaster relationship will prove to be unique.

The Flames' new hierarchy is virtually untested in professional hockey but has a winning track record in other sports, Burke pointed out.

"This is a relatively new structure in professional hockey," Burke said. "There are two teams in the NHL that have this type of management structure. There are a number of teams in the National Football League that do, a number of teams in Major League Baseball that do, and a number of teams in the NBA that do. And it works effectively. And it's going to work here.

"I have talked to executives in other sports about how this works, and it's going to work if both Jay and I want it to work, it's going to work and we both do. He's going to be in charge but with my guidance.

"This is new for both of us, but I'm determined to make it work and I think it will work and I think I add value. I don't think I'm coming to this as some green guy that's never run a team."

As Burke reiterated, the Flames remain Feaster's. And those expecting Burke's personality to overshadow Feaster will be disappointed.

With his new role, Burke said he doesn't expect to be meeting much with the media, despite the fact he's been the focal point in the past.

"From my perspective, this new role I don't intend to be the spokesperson for the team," Burke said. "Hopefully you'll get what you need today and then the day-to-day guy is going to be the coach, Bob Hartley. Transactional guy if we're talking about a trade or something that Jay does, Jay will talk to the media.

"I intend to have a background role, and I think people will believe that when they see it, but trust me, you'll see it."

But that doesn't result in a gentler Burke on the rare occasion he is called in front of cameras. He's not somber at the fact he'll be there less.

"I don't intend to be front and center," Burke said. "That would actually be a nice break after being front and center and getting in a lot of little scraps with the media. I'm not going to be a tamer guy when I do talk to the media because I'm not changing, but it will be less of a role. This is not my role with this team and I'm content with that. That's not an issue with me.

"I've never called the media and said, 'Hey, interview me.' They've always called me. It's not like I crave the attention. They always call me and say, 'Can we get something on tape about this,' so you do it to cooperate and do what's right for your team, but I've never made that call, so I'm very happy to take a backseat here."

Back to top