Jay Feaster's present and near future, courtesy Chris Peters.
The Calgary Flames announced the creation of a new position Thursday, introducing media darling Brian Burke in the newly-minted seat as the president of hockey operations. His role, summed up by Flames president Ken King, "will include overall responsibility for the sports side of the Calgary Flames."
Say, isn't that what Jay Feaster does? you may be asking.
Don't you worry for Feaster. He's not being fired, displaced or undermined at all. He remains the Flames' General Manager, and he still gets to do all the same stuff he did before. He just has to run it all by Burke now.
It's great news for Feaster from a time-saving perspective, as Burke's office will near his, "so I don't have walk as far to see the guy I report to," according to Feaster. It means he can spend more time wheeling and dealing, and less time catching his breath. And this is assuming Burke is even in his office, as opposed to standing directly behind Feaster at all times.
On top of that, Feaster pointed out that there is wisdom to be mined here. Burke has, after all, won a Stanley Cup. That's big. "To be able to tap into that wealth of knowledge on a daily basis, it's a great thing," he said, and we saw a great example of that wealth of knowledge at work shortly thereafter, as Burke pointed out that Feaster has won a Cup too. Thanks for the reminder!
And with that, Feaster handed out bumper stickers that said "Burke is my co-pilot".
One wonders how long this dynamic is going to work. Burke has never been the sort to take a backseat to anybody, and considering his office basically comes pre-installed with a button that makes the floor under Feaster drop out, Mr. Burns-style, you have to think it's going to be tough for him to remain behind the scenes.
Sure, Burke said all the right things and played the good teammate, underscoring this point by actually telling the assembled media what a good teammate he is.
"People think I need to be driving the bus all the time," he said. "I'm actually a pretty good teammate, too."
Burke later followed that up with a demonstration, explaining that, in his estimation, the Calgary Flames won the 2013 draft. He was quick to point out that he was working as a scout for the Ducks at the time, so he made this observation as a neutral observer. I would point out that a) he didn't voice this opinion as a neutral observer and b) he had just expounded on what a good teammate he was, so maybe we can take this thought with a grain of salt.
But Burke also told the media that originally, he wasn't interested in this position because he sees himself as more of a GM (not to mention a media lightning rod, which he claims he'll be able to restrain himself from doing here). If I'm Feaster, I see the fact that Burke can seize the job he really wants -- my job -- at a moment's notice as a portent of death.
For the time being, however, Burke and Feaster seem genuinely excited about the new management structure, and their shared enthusiasm is the most important thing.
"If we both want it to work, it's gonna work," Burke said. "And we both do. He is gonna be in charge, but with my guidance."