tbl.commentator Melanie Formentin
The way the story goes, Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster's career in hockey was born from a seemingly unconventional start.
As a Stanley Cup and Calder Cup (American Hockey League) winning General Manager, one might expect to find a long history of playing, coaching or even scouting on Feaster's resume. What is found instead is a history of practicing law for a firm, holding operational duties with an entertainment company and an unexpected turn that landed Feaster a job as the manager of a minor league hockey team.
The story of the Williamstown, PA native is not entirely unknown. After graduating from law school Feaster went on to practice law in Harrisburg, PA. One of the firm's biggest clients was the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company (HERCO) who, at the time, was in the process of selling a number of properties from Connecticut to Texas.
Working with Rod Pera, a managing partner of the law firm and a member of the HERCO's board of directors, Feaster found himself doing a lot of work for the HERCO as the organization moved to re-structure itself. Through that work Feaster became familiar with the organization and members of its executive team, paving the way for his eventual move to hockey.
"I was working for Rod [Pera] at the firm, Rod was on their board and he was their main counsel," Feaster said. "They were selling all those properties, so I ended up doing all this transactional work and basically... I'd be traveling to Connecticut, to Philly, to the Pocono's, to Corpus Christi with people from HERCO - the vice presidents, operating people, and I got to know them and I did that the two years that I practiced law."
When the transactions for HERCO began to wind down Feaster mentioned in passing to Bruce McKinney, then the new chairman and CEO of HERCO, that he would love to become a part of their organization. With the support of the firm he had worked at, Feaster moved into a newly opened position as McKinney's assistant. The rest, one could say, is history.
As a hockey fan, Feaster fondly recalls how he and his wife would attend Hershey Bears games. The Bears were owned and operated by the HERCO and were not only a source of entertainment but were a conversation piece that eventually helped to land Feaster his job.
"On a Saturday we [Feaster and his wife] would go out to dinner and then go over to the games," Feaster said. "On a Monday when we would get in there for Mr. McKinney's executive committee meetings, before the meeting would start he and I would sit there and just talk about hockey. We would talk about the game, about our affiliate, the Flyers games and stuff, and so he knew that I was a fan and that I understood the game."
"At the time, the way the affiliation agreement worked with the Flyers, they supplied all the players so that the General Manager for the Hershey Bears didn't have to go and recruit players or sign players or identify talent," Feaster continued. "The GM of the Bears basically ran the business."MORE