Jay Feaster

Flames GM Feaster: “Now we’ll get accused that the top two lines have too many Czechs”


Jay Feaster’s faced a fair amount of criticism since taking over as Calgary Flames GM.

His response? Brush it off with a chuckle.

“I have to laugh,” Feaster said during Monday afternoon’s conference call. “The perception is that the front office is too full of Americans, and behind the bench now is too full of French Canadians, and now we’ll get accused that the top two lines have too many Czechs.”

This, of course, was in response to Feaster signing a pair of Czech skaters: Roman Cervenka — who spent last year in the KHL — and Jiri Hudler, who scored 25 goals for Detroit in 2011-12.

(The Flames only had one Czech skater last year: Roman Horak, who played 61 games in a mostly bottom-six role.)

The deals came under fire for two particular reasons. One, Cervenka and Hudler didn’t come cheap and are a combined $7.75 million cap hit in 2012-13.

Two, they’re both big questions marks.

Cervenka, 26, has no NHL experience. He was a dominant KHL scorer in 2010-11, but was aided by playing alongside Jaromir Jagr — after Jagr bolted to Philly, Cervenka’s production dropped off, going from 61 points to just 39 last year.

Questions also surround the 28-year-old Hudler. He finished second on the Wings in goals (25) last season, yet was seen by many as a byproduct of linemates Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula.

But while some see a red flag, Feaster sees opportunity.

He figures Hudler will be given a more prominent role than the one he had in Detroit (Calgary even plans to use him on the penalty kill) and could flourish like a player he knew from his days in Tampa Bay — Fredrik Modin.

“I’ve thought about it in the same context as when Rick Dudley was the general manager in Tampa,” Feaster explained.

“He acquired Freddy Modin, in his prime, from Toronto. Freddy was playing there in a third-line role. Ultimately, he came to Tampa and he was a top-line guy and scored 30 goals multiple times.

“I’m not comparing the two — but [Hudler] is going to have even more opportunity to flourish in our organization.”

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.