Erik Erlendsson covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Tampa Tribune.
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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 But he was noticeably withdrawn, didn’t go into details, didn’t expand on thoughts.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.