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.”