As spring moves into summer and NHL teams continue to fall out of the playoffs, it’s obvious that the hunt to replace Brent Sutter as coach of the Calgary Flames has gone quiet. I’m guessing the Flames couldn’t be happier about it.
It’s not to say Jay Feaster isn’t busy. The Flames affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat, has had a nice run in the AHL post-season. A number of the Flames top prospects in the NCAA and CHL have been outstanding in tournaments and playoffs. That has to have taken much of the attention away.
Yet, Feaster now says the coach selection process has started. It’s an ordeal that isn’t exactly simple. It’s my hope he takes his time and exhausts every avenue available to him. There lies the greatest question: what is exactly that?
While Jay Feaster was quoted as saying the position will be highly sought after. Rumours are starting to swirl that Calgary isn’t exactly the destination of choice for many coaching candidates. Why is really up to you. Three years without a post-season berth tops the list, with the perception the future may not be that promising. Sure there are no top five draft picks waiting to hop into the roster. Yet, NCAA stars Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold along with WHL standouts Sven Baertschi, Max Reinhart (currently in Abbotsford) and Michael Ferland among others suggest help is coming perhaps sooner than later.
Then there’s the thought — right or wrong — that Feaster does not have the autonomy to make a decision unencumbered. The organization is adamant that is not the case, but it won’t go away.
Case and point whispers that on the way out Brent Sutter muttered to confidants that John Weisbrod is the only real shining light in Flames management and that Feaster may be overshadowed. That may simply be sour grapes on Sutter’s part then again, perhaps not.
The surprise signing of Czech star Roman Cervenka has been acknowledged by many as a shrewd move — plenty of upside, with a bonus-laded contract that produces little risk for the Flames. Give Feaster and Weisbrod plenty of credit there, and who knows other surprises may await.
Finally, in a radio interview this past week Feaster suggested trades are in the offing. This time, Jarome Iginla’s name is not among them. However, in spite of his no trade clause Defenceman Jay Bouwmeester may be in play. In fact, a member of the Flames organization suggests that is exactly the case. As well standout Miikka Kiprusoff may be available in a goaltending market that has grown this offseason. If that’s a fact the Flames deck could be shuffled greatly.
In the end while little has been said publically by the Flames, gossip prevails in Southern Alberta. Obviously, Feaster is right to lay as low as possible.