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Work lies ahead

by Scott Cruickshank / Calgary Flames

This article orginally appeared in the Calgary Herald on April 20, 2010. The author, Scott Cruickshank, is a beat writer covering the Calgary Flames on a daily basis. You can read The Herald online by clicking here

CALGARY — He speaks for the owners. He speaks for the organization.

But what does he think?

Calgary Flames president Ken King was given an opportunity to offer his two cents on everything from the state of the team to the status of its captain, to the general manager, to the new rink, to his own future.

He obliged.

On the brink of a busy off-season, King’s responses were delivered Tuesday morning at Flames headquarters.

POSTMEDIA: OK. Back-to-back 10th-place finishes. What happened? What needs to happen?

KING: History speaks for itself. As a top-payroll team in a top North American market — not just a Canadian market — the expectations are very high. And I think that’s good. Our fans have been patient. I think we earned some respect in the latter part of the season. I think everyone largely agrees that at the beginning of December we started to play better, function better as a team, have more success. I think we are: a), taking that as a sign of encouragement; and b), that there is much more work to be done.

POSTMEDIA: Is there a time frame for Jay Feaster — or someone — to be named GM, without the “acting?”

KING: Jay submitted a preliminary report (a couple of weeks after being named interim general manager Dec. 28). He has provided additional thoughts and views. Now, as you would expect at the end of the season, he is doing what would be considered the final report. I’ll take that full body of work and we’ll make our ultimate and final decision . . . I would say probably in the next two or three weeks.

POSTMEDIA: Busy off-season. The GM stuff. Re-signing (head coach) Brent (Sutter). Gathering draft picks. Re-signing free agents. Hiring assistant coaches (to replace Jamie McLennan, Rob Cookson). What do you consider the priority?

KING: Really, all of the above. It’s a comprehensive process. All of them are priorities — one does not supersede the other. What’s critical is that they all be done.

POSTMEDIA: Given the way the team performed after Dec. 28, any regrets that there was not a GM switch earlier?

KING: That would presuppose that the GM switch was the catalyst for all of the change — it had something to do with it, but not all of it. It’s hindsight. It’s history. We did it when we did it. The results were what they were.

POSTMEDIA: Also on that date, Dec. 28, you talked about (Darryl Sutter’s) “solid foundation.’’ Do you still stand by that?

KING: Darryl did a lot of good work . . . understand, it’s a body of work that took several years, that began when he came here as coach (Dec. 28, 2002). So we look at it perhaps a little more broadly. Darryl made some really important contributions. And there are aspects of his legacy that will serve us really well. And there are other elements that will likely change — and should be changed, and have been changed. I said once that people, including leaders, are rarely the Messiahs they’re painted to be on the good parts, or the devils they’re suggested to be on the bad parts."

POSTMEDIA: Well-established is the team’s plan to keep Jarome Iginla in Calgary. At what level, within the organization, is that decided?

KING: Not only is it well-established, but what has been clearly stated is to have Jarome, many years from now, retire as a Calgary Flame. That kind of a decision requires unanimity. Organizationally, at the coaching level, at the general manager’s level, at my level, at the ownership level, there is a broadly and positively held view that Jarome should be an integral part of our operation for years to come.

POSTMEDIA: New rink. What’s the latest?

KING: It’s still a two- to five-year project. I can’t conceive of it being any earlier . . . but we need to have a new building, ultimately. We spend a lot of time working on that. We have purposely not unveiled our plans because I don’t think we’re quite ready for that.

POSTMEDIA: That outside range, five years, is that just shovel-in-dirt?

KING: You’d like to think you could open the doors in that five-year horizon.

POSTMEDIA: Lots of change here. Darryl Sutter gone. A couple of assistants. Probably more stuff coming. How secure are you in your job?

KING: Well, that’s a decision for somebody else to make. In the meetings that I’ve had, all of our discussions and plans are about working together, going forward into the future, to make this team more successful. I’m thrilled to remain a part of those plans.


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