The Calgary Flames formally introduced Brian Burke as their President of Hockey Operations during a press conference at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday afternoon.
President Ken King explained that the position was newly created and would include oversight over the sports side of the organization, with manager Jay Feaster reporting to Burke. In terms of Feaster, his responsibilities have not changed and he will still be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the club.
The decision to implement the new position was a concept the Flames had been considering over the span of 30 months. Burke stated that only two teams in the NHL presently use this management structure, but the arrangement is something prominently used in other sports. In fact, Burke consulted with Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti before accepting the position.
Based upon their explanation, the Flames are attempting to create a think-tank environment where educated hockey minds pool their opinions. Burke will primarily act in an advisory role and use his experience to help Feaster make decisions. Feaster will still operate as he has in the past, but instead of reporting to King, he will report to Burke, who in turn, will report to King.
In terms of veto power, Burke has the ability to override a transaction if he wants to, but he didn't want to phrase it that way because he believes he and Feaster will have open dialogues about moves, which will avoid disagreement. Ownership ultimately has the power to veto any move, but King stated the Flames have never vetoed a proposal and don't see it as an issue moving into the future.
Burke stated at the beginning of his introduction that the Flames will look to become a bigger team that plays an exciting brand of hockey. He believes Feaster has already taken progressive steps in the team's rebuild and praised the team's 2013 draft class as the best in the league. However, he wasn't willing to put a timeline on how long the rebuild will take.
In general, all parties involved expressed mutual respect for one another and seemed genuinely excited to begin working together. Burke and Feaster have had a friendship for some time and Burke worked intimately with owner Murray Edwards during the 2012 collective bargaining negotiations. Burke has a proven track record and certainly will be able to provide Feaster and the Flames a great deal of insight into successful team building.
Ultimately, the position doesn't seem to be something that will drastically alter the power structure of the hockey operation department. Feaster has a new "boss" but it doesn't seem as though Burke views it that way, rather more as an advisor with a great deal of responsibility. Essentially, the Flames and Feaster are interested in acquiring Burke's knowledge, which frankly, is a valuable commodity to have.
Considering all involved seem to have a mutual understanding about how this will work, the Flames brought a valuable individual into their organization who can help them move into the future.