I'm sure everyone thinks the happiest guy in the room is Brad, but it's probably me. - Brian Burke
CALGARY, AB -- Brian Burke was willing to wait longer to find the next general manager of the Calgary Flames. He didn't have to, thanks in part to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Given a grace window by Phoenix general manager Don Maloney of roughly 10 days to speak with Brad Treliving, Burke added to his front office Monday in naming the Coyotes assistant GM to fill the vacancy created by after Jay Feaster was relieved of his duties on Dec. 12.
"When we asked Phoenix for permission, we fully expected that they would say, 'You can talk to him after the draft and not before,' in which case we would've waited," said Burke, the Flames' president of hockey operations who had served as interim GM since Feaster's dismissal. "What changed was that they said we were free to talk and hire Brad. They gave us a tight window to do it and we got the deal done in that time.
"I'm sure everyone thinks the happiest guy in the room is Brad, but it's probably me."
Treliving, a native of Penticton, B.C., and the only candidate Burke interviewed for the role, had spent the previous seven seasons as the assistant GM for the Coyotes. He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of Phoenix's hockey operations department and served as GM of the Coyotes' American Hockey League affiliate, the Portland Pirates.
In his role, Treliving was consulted on all team personnel decisions and managed the amateur and pro scouting staffs and other administrative duties assigned by Maloney. Treliving was also responsible for all player personnel assignments with the Coyotes' minor-league affiliates.
Now, the 44-year-old becomes a GM in the NHL for the first time.
"I think this is a great opportunity, specifically for me but for any young general manager coming into this job," Treliving said. "I had a great opportunity with Don Maloney. I was involved in everything. I was as close to that captain's chair as you can probably be being a No. 2 guy, but I'm not naïve enough to know that there is a difference.
"There is a difference from the first chair to the second chair and to be able to work for Brian, alongside Brian and pull those years of experience, the success he's had and having a sounding board and working with all of the Flames staff here."
Much like he did when the Flames hired him back in September, Burke made it very clear that Calgary is the GM's team to run.
At the time of those comments, it was in regards to Feaster's role. They will hold true for Treliving, according to Burke.
"Our management structure was designed for continuity and stability and for the ability to bring a general manager that didn't have a lot of experience, but has a great background," Burke said. "It's my job, shifting today, to provide Brad with whatever guidance and leadership I can. Make no mistake about it, folks -- Brad is the general manger of this team effective right now.
"When we set this up, I want to assist and guide this person. I really believe we've hired the right guy. Everyone says this on days like these, but this is based on a tremendous amount of research going into this.
"From the period where I relieved Jay of his duties to today, we had a lot of time to focus on this and there has been a focus and it has been canvasing other GMs, 'Who would you hire if you were hiring a young guy?' It all kept coming back to Brad. It doesn't change anything. I'm here to help him now. My job is to help him on the upside as far as advice and going a certain direction, but also to chip in on the hockey side."
After serving alongside Maloney, Treliving understands the relationship that will develop with Burke.
"I'm a big believer in collaborative efforts," Treliving said. "You need good people, you need to talk to people and you need to pool information. I don't know if there's a better resource for a manager to have in this League than what I have in Brian. I'm going to be bending Brian's ear as often and more than he probably thinks I will be and it would be silly not to.
"The other reality of life is we all have bosses. That's just how it works. When I leave here and go home, I have a boss there. Her name is Julie and she scares the heck out of me a lot of nights, but that's how it works. This is not anything new and I have zero reservation on how it's going to work."
Sharing a philosophical approach on how to build a championship-caliber team will help.
Burke, as noted by his penchant to use the word truculent, employs the idea that a big, physical team is required to challenge for the Stanley Cup.
Treliving, not surprisingly, has a similar thought on how to return the Flames to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after five straight seasons of failing to qualify. Calgary went 35-40-7 this season, 14 points out of a playoff spot.
"I think the style of play, people talk about big and whatever word you want to use, I think you need to have heavy teams now," he said. "I think you have to play a heavy game. That's not just a personal preference. Turn on the TV tonight and watch the games.
"There are steps along the way. We've got to take a lot of steps but in order to be there at the end, to build a championship, you do have to have a blueprint and you look at the games that are being played now. It's hard hockey. It's heavy hockey. It's a man's game. It's a big boy's game out there right now. In order to have success, I fully believe you have to have a team that can play in those games."
Treliving will have plenty of opportunity to quickly put his heavy stamp on the Flames.
Calgary has 33 players under contract for the 2014-15 season, including 13 one-way contracts with plenty of cap space. The Flames also have the fourth selection and five picks in the first three rounds in the 2014 NHL Draft.
"This team is positioned very well," Treliving said. "I think you look at Brian, you look at Jay, there have been some good things here that you're not coming in here and saying, 'We've got to find a way to dump a bunch of money, we've got a find a way to shake loose a bunch of contracts.'
"The canvas to me is somewhat clean, is clean, so that's exciting. You don't have to have a real scrubbing shower before you can go find the new clothes."
Author: Aaron Vickers | NHL.com Correspondent