“This is not why I came to Calgary. To be the guy to trade Jarome Iginla.”
Perhaps it wasn’t the thesis of his cover letter, but it’s now what defines Jay Feaster’s tenure as Calgary Flames general manager.
He’s Joe McDonald, trading Tom Seaver from the New York Mets in the Midnight Massacre in 1977. He’s Harry Sinden, trading Raymond Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche in March 2000. It doesn’t really matter how or why these trades happened, just that they happened: a franchise icon and beloved fan favorite shipped out for what could only be an unsuitable return.
Just as it was out of those GMs’ control, the Iginla Trade was out of Feaster’s. Calgary had “multiple offers” on the table for him, days after Iginla met with the general manager and Iginla's agent Don Meehan submitted a list of suitable trade destinations.
The Flames traded him for forwards Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski, two NCAA players and C-rated prospects via Hockey’s Future; as well as the Penguins’ first-round draft choice in 2013, which should be so low that it’s a de facto second-rounder.
Feaster’s getting roasted like a suckling pig for this return for Iginla.
He deserves our scorn because he’s part of a managerial team that’s earned it, through its stubborn delusion about being a contender to its genuinely terrible transactions (hello, Dennis Wideman signing). The return on this trade is embarrassing considering the Penguins didn’t surrender any of their top prospects for arguably the most iconic player in Calgary Flames history.
Yet what was the true market for a 35-year-old soon-to-be UFA with a no-trade clause? It’s like we all think NHL trades are run through the EA Sports filter, waiting for a booming voice to say “TRADE DENIED" because it's imbalanced.
If you think the Flames chose the wrong package, that’s not on Feaster – Iginla chose it. If you think this trade should have happened years ago, that’s not on Feaster – trading Iginla goes waaaay higher up the food chain. You think his chubby fingers are on that trigger? That's an ownership decision.
Ultimately, the decision was Iginla’s on where to play. It didn’t matter if the Boston Bruins offered more than the Pittsburgh Penguins, because Iginla wanted to be a Pittsburgh Penguin.
And now he is, thanks to the complete antithesis of Jay Feaster as a general manager: Ray Shero.
• • •
"We’re all in. We want to win."
If Jay Feaster is now The Man That Traded Jarome Iginla, then Ray Shero is The Man That Traded For Jarome Iginla. And Brenden Morrow. And Douglas Murray. And James Neal. And Bill Guerin. And Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. And all of the other additions to the Penguins through the years that earned them annual success, two conference titles and a Stanley Cup.
If Calgary Flames management seems like a rudderless vessel adrift at sea, the combination of Shero, owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle seem like an unsinkable battleship. The assemblage of talent on the 2013 Penguins makes them one of the deepest and most star-studded teams in recent memory.
How did Shero get Iginla to agree to join the Penguins? From a Penguins.com Q&A on Wednesday night:
Did you speak with Jarome to persuade him to waive his no-trade clause as you had with Brenden Morrow? If so, what did you say to convince him to join the Penguins and what else did you discuss?
SHERO: I just talked to him after the fact. That was it. He agreed to waive and come to Pittsburgh. The trade conference call was done with the league. Everything was final. That was it. I talked to him a while ago after it. He said he was excited to come to Pittsburgh. He said he would help anyway he could, didn’t care about role or who he was playing with. He wants to help the team win and be a part of it. It was a big change after 16 years in Calgary so I’m sure it will be quite emotional. We have a month sort through the emotions, find some roles for guys, players accepting of those and playing good hockey. The team on paper doesn’t mean too much. We have to do it on the ice. Chemistry for a hockey team is very important.
What Shero’s added here, and what he’s given up, will be legendary if the Penguins win the Cup. As Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters writes:
For all the speculation that the Penguins might have to give up a bevy of top prospects to improve their team, the only star prospect they gave up this week was Joe Morrow in the Brenden Morrow trade. They still have Beau Bennett, Simon Despres, Derrick Pouliot, Olli Matta, Scott Harrington and others in their possession. They did give up quite a few high-end draft picks but when you consider the return, a run at the Stanley Cup is more than worth that price.
Indeed it is, and that’s why Ray Shero is at the top of his profession: He goes for it.
Isn't that refreshing, in a world of cost-cutting GMs and timid managers that hold onto their assets like a child would a security blanket?
Granted, none of them have the safety cushion that Shero has: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang for starters. There’s no question that core emboldens him, focuses him. But in the end, it’s Shero annually placing his gonads on the table, trying to turn an excellent regular-season team into a champion.
Ray Shero is the GM you wish your team had. Jay Feaster is the one you feel your team is stuck with until the inevitable regime change.
One is a leader, and one is a caretaker.
One just traded for Jarome Iginla, and one just became forever known as the guy who traded him.
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