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What will become of Jay Feaster?

Posted Jul 9, 2008 by Erik Erlendsson

Updated Jul 9, 2008 at 11:05 PM

I know a lot of you have been asking this question, and frankly, just about every radio interview request that I have granted in the past two weeks has asked that very question. And each time, I have not been able to give a clear answer.

But I do expect one to be given in the coming days.

It’s an issue that’s sort of been skirted around for a short while now.

In the weeks leading up to the ownership change, the assumption was that Feaster was going to be the general manager. Even in the press conference to announce that John Tortorella was being fired, Feaster referenced a conversation he had with Oren Koules in which Feaster said he was told that he would still be the general manager. (I don’t know if I buy that line of thinking because anybody new wants to bring in their own guys, but that’s just my thought). And, the days leading up to the draft, Feaster was still acting in that capacity, even attending the draft combine in Toronto at the end of May. He was the spokesperson for the team, talking about selecting Steven Stamkos. But he was noticeably withdrawn, didn’t go into details, didn’t expand on thoughts. And that wasn’t Jay. I worked closely with him for over eight years since I took over the beat, interviewed him hundreds of times. He’s a great salesman for the game and was always willing to make sure that I had enough information to satisfy my requests.

Now, I can’t say for sure, but I started to get the impression that Jay knew what fate awaited him once the ownership transition became official. And once I caught wind of Brian Lawton was meeting with Len Barrie and Koules at the draft in Ottawa, I was convinced that Feaster was all but out as general manager. Then, two days after the press conference announcing the ownership was in place, Lawton was hired as vice president of hockey operations, but that’s only a title to get him into the front office. Bottom line, he’s the one doing the job of the general manager right now.

Right about now, I know you are asking the question, “But Erik, you still haven’t answered the question of what is to become of Jay Feaster?’‘

Well, as I stated above, I don’t have a clear answer to that question.

Feaster has three more years left on his contract, so I can’t imagine Koules and Co. just cutting him loose and continue to pay him for the next three years. If they wanted to do that, he would have been cut loose by now. But if you are Jay Feaster, it’s hard to walk away from the money left on his contract, which is believed to be just under $1 million per season. And I don’t get the feeling that Feaster will be able to jump right out and find another job at this point, at least not in a general manager’s capacity. Feaster has a brilliant mind, his legal background and the way he goes about taking care of his business and those around him are something to be admired. He has a clear and concise understanding of the collective bargaining agreement. And his abilities when it comes to public speaking are second to none, as are his abilities to negotiate contracts.

But, how much pride can he swallow? I was told not too long ago that “Jay would fit in’‘, but the question is, where? What can he do for the new ownership? Where would he fit in? And how could Jay be counted on to produce when he would feel unwanted?

I believe that this will be cleared up in the coming days. The word circulating around, and it’s more of just a theory right now, but a buy out could be negotiated with Feaster that would allow both sides to come to an amicable agreement that would see both sides able to walk away from each other.

But the situation has to be cleared up, and soon. It’s very awkward right now, and quite frankly, rather uncomfortable. And it’s a shame in many regards because Jay Feaster does have his name on the Stanley Cup. I know that Lawton has been steering clear of just about every interview request right now, probably out of respect for the situation, and for Feaster. But the press releases that have been coming out of late have taken a shift from quoting either Koules and/or Barrie to getting statements from Brian Lawton, who will no doubt assume the general manager’s position once the situation with Feaster straightens itself out.

Reader Comments

Por (dronestate) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

If Feaster goes, it won’t be the first time the ownership publicly stated someone had a job in Tampa and then was sent packing. We all know what happened to Boyle.

You know, this new ownership group reminds me of the bosses at work and I don’t like that at all.

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Por (James Collin) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

wow i hope jay stays. he has done a great job as the lightnings gm. i like him alot. go bolts and here we come for the cup..

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Por (CNBC Watcher) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

This is an offbeat possibility, but hear me out.  The CEO of Hershey Foods left last year, and I don’t think he has been replaced yet.  It’s going to be tough for Uncle Feaster to get a GM job, at least for a while; I think some of that is due to his trading record.  It’s also unlikely he’s heading for TV and I’m not sure he’s even viewed as an insider among the good ol’ boys of the NHL, which limits his options.
So what’s a guy to do?  Return as President of the company that he left to join the Lightning, the company that had him as a VP and gave him his first shot at sports management with the Bears?  Could be local boy returns home, with everybody happy in the end.

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Por (Mike Joyce) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

It sure smells to me like another Boyle deal.  Sure, sure you have a place on the team - then wham.

The major difference is that it is unlikely that the owners will be able to trade Uncle Fester for future draft picks, so will be stuck for the salary for the next three years.  I hope that he likes running over to Starbucks several times a day for a cool mil per year.

Take it Uncle Fester, it’ll pay your food bill.

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Por (Jeff) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Jay has been good for the organaztion but time to move on. The new owners defintely don’t want to stand pat and ‘Hope” the team will improve. Not doing anything the last couple of years (Look at goaltending) was his death knell. If I paid that much for a Hockey Club I would have said nice job but time to go. For all the comparisans to Boyle. HE’S Gone!!! Let it go already. Wish him best but geez he was defintely not worth what he was paid. C’mon -42 Lifetime. I can careless how he moves the puck. Go young with a couple of vets to anchor and we’ll be good to go…Hmm worked for another club…Oh yeah the RED WINGS…

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Por (victor e. victor) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

...“as are his abilities to negotiate contracts.”

You CANNOT be serious. Feaster’s horrible contract with Richards 3 years ago began the downward spiral of this team. His over payment to Boyle 6 short months ago put the nail in his coffin. Thank goodness. He drove two good guys out of town by letting agents talk him into ridiculous contracts.
“Salesman” is the right term. All he ever wanted to do was sell seats for the carpet-baggers in Detroit. He was a shill, not a GM.  In the end he sold the team down the drain. Good riddance!

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Por (Mike Joyce) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Victor,

You didn’t even mention the sweetheart deal that he gave Denis because he fell in love with him when they were on the same minor league team.

It’s good of you to be kind enough not to mention all of poor Uncle Fester’s failings.

Bye Bye Uncle Fester.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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Por (earl scott) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

let the “horrible” deals he contracted speak for themselves…jay might be a good GM when he has good players and the team is winning…but once he is called upon to do his job to put together a winning team,well, we can see that he really doesn’t know what he is doing…i will be glad to see him go…he has proven that he moves way tooo slow for this new fast ownership.

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Por (Boltwatcher) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Great article Erik.  Many good things can and should be said about Jay, but most posters find it easier to call him names while criticizing or say nothing at all.

It seems so easy now to ignore the fact that he was forced to deal with an ownership that chose fiscal restraint over wins & losses.  Keeping V4, Marty, Brad and Boyle left no room for error in re-assembling the supporting cast.  Every role player by definition had to be a risk, potential without a high price tag, looking for a diamond in the rough.  Jay was sporting news executive of the year.  Too bad he could not play rotisserie GM instead of having to run the Lightning under a real business model.

You did a great job, Jay.  Best of luck to you in the future.

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Por (Katya) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Didn’t he pack up his belongings and leave today?

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Por (Erik Erlendsson) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

It’s easy to criticize the contract that Brad Richards signed, but here’s the bottom line on that: Richards was a restricted free agent coming off a 90-point season and already had a Conn Smythe to his resume. Somebody was going to sign him to an offer sheet, and word was that Phoenix was a strong candidate because Wayne Gretzky is a big fan of Richards. And you can almost surely bet that the offer sheet would have been very close to the maximum. When Richards was signed, it was under the 2005-06 salary cap where the max was $7.8 million; the cap went up a month after Richards signed his deal to allow for a max of $8.6 million. So in truth, the contract worked in Tampa Bay’s favor.

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Por (victoria) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I’ve been saying that for weeks. Sorry Jaybut you’ve got to go. According to the new owners, It’s a new era and a fresh start in rebuilding.

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Por (Bill) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I’ve heard that the food concession operators at the Forum are petitioning to keep Feaster.

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Por (Raymond) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Jay has been effectively removed as the GM.  An organization doesn’t have the ability to take someone with a contract and place them in a lower position to avoid paying out the severance due under the contract.  Otherwise any organization would instead of firing their CEO would make him a maintenance man and humiliate them until they left.

Because of the way he has been treated, Jay will have sufficient cause to leave and require that they pay off the rest of his contract.

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Por (chris) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Sha Na Na Na…. Hey Hey Hey… Goodbye
Lets let feast negotiate his own contract if he’s so good, oops he already did
Hey Bill, comment of the day

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Por (Jason Harlow) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

I honestly think it would be foolish to allow Jay to leave. His knowledge of the CBA is a very valuable asset to this club, not to mention he is the only one in management or coaching there now with their name on the cup.

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Por (Mike Joyce) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Jason,

You can buy CBA knowledge for much less than they are paying Uncle Fester.  Having his name on the Cup is a poor excuse for keeping someone who is a poor excuse for a GM.

The team that he inherited was largely the team that won the Cup.  Not long after the Cup, there was speculation that if Uncle Fester had to rebuild another team to win a Cup, he wouldn’t be able to do that.  He proved the detractors to be right.

Bye, bye American Pie (and lots of the pie).

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Por (Timothy Halstead) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

it cracks me up especially someone by the name of mike joyce who criticizes dan boyle and jay feaster who obviously knows everything. but the whole marc denis deal wasnt his fault, because there was a certain incident the year before with john grahame on the road during the middle of the 05-06 season thats when feaster wanted to get denis but couldnt cus the ownership didnt let him. so they went out and did a trade for him. if he would of gotten him before the 05-06 season ended maybe just maybe he wouldnt of never been signed to that 3 year deal. and also im sure u were hating on boyle when he was named 2nd team all nhl 2 years ago and when he scored 20 goals and had 60 points 2 years ago. so shut up! and erik thanks for the great blog

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Por (Mike Joyce) on July 10, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Even you admit that Feaster wanted to get Denis in mid season, but ownership wouldn’t let him.  You are entirely right that Feaster was the driving force in getting a bad goalie that he had a man crush on.

Thanks for supporting my arguement.  To bad you didn’t study English so you could puctuate and capitalise properly.

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Por (TampaRob) on July 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

punctuations - capitalizations - correct spellings - this is too much to handle. C’mon guys.. it’s just a freaking blog! we’re not going to agree on everything but most of us have some good takes.

I’m looking forward to the season.. without Uncle Feaster.. should be interesting to see how OK/Barrie/Barry/and yet un-named new GM fare with the fans and the press as the season moves closer.

Go Bolts!!

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Por (Mike Joyce) on July 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

It’s a little difficult to take seriously someone who can’t write a sentence.

I guess ignorance is bliss.

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Por (Cookie) on July 11, 2008 (Suggest removal)

Thank you Jay for your honesty and intergrity.  Our family wishes you and your family the very best.

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