Earlier this week, the Calgary Flames welcomed back hero and longtime face of the franchise Jarome Iginla in an emotional return. At the end of the game, Iginla’s Bruins teammates wouldn’t let him off the ice, forcing him to skate a few laps and let the crowd have its love-in.
Today, the team fired GM Jay Feaster and assistant GM John Weisbrod. Brian Burke will take over hockey operations on an interim basis for now and a search for a new GM will begin. And it could possibly be another former Flames star returning home to take this position. In fact, it could be the guy Iginla was acquired for in 1995.
Sources say Dallas has granted Calgary permission to speak with Joe Nieuwendyk. #TSN
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) December 12, 2013
Nieuwendyk, of course, served as GM of the Dallas Stars from June 2009 until the end of the 2012-13 season, when he was replaced by Jim Nill. But Nieuwendyk acquired such players as Alex Chiasson, Reilly Smith (now with Boston), Jack Campbell, Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie through the draft, Brenden Dillon through free agent signing, and Kari Lehtonen through trade. The guy isn’t perfect (no one in the GM role is), but he’s got an eye for talent and has a good amount of front office experience as the head guy and as an assistant. This seems like the type of pick up the Flames would do well with.
It would be a hiring Flames fans could immediately get on board with and be similar to what Buffalo did in bringing Pat LaFontaine back into the fold. He’s not the GM there (yet), but he doesn’t have the experience in the position that Nieuwendyk does either. Colorado also went down this road by bringing back Joe Sakic into a management role and Patrick Roy behind the bench, to positive results.
The question now becomes whether or not Nieuwendyk and Burke share the same thoughts on how a successful NHL team should be built. Burke wants “black and blue” hockey back in Calgary, which means truculence and pugnacity. It means having a Colton Orr type or two. Is that the type of team Nieuwendyk believes in building?
If not, Burke could end up dropping the interim tag and just assuming the GM role for the long-term. And, right now, that’s probably the best bet as to where this goes from here.
Who would be a better GM for the Flames: Nieuwendyk or Burke?