The Calgary Flames have two very large holes in their organization right now, one is their next head coach and the other is their next general manager. The organization has said that it will be the GM who picks the coach, but have not yet announced a timeline for getting that position filled. There are a lot of names swirling around the rumour mill for who could fill this role, some internal candidates and some external candidates are for sure on the list. A slightly off-the-board pick, if the Flames want to go external for their next GM, Michael (Mike) Futa would be an interesting name to think about.
Who is Mike Futa
Futa had a very short hockey career, playing at York University before moving to Europe to play for four seasons. He ended his career in the German 3rd division, racking up 61 points in 24 games in 1995–96.
Following that, Futa made is way into the business side of hockey, serving as the GM and Head Coach of the St Michael’s Buzzers of the OPJHL. He would then go on to coach the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors of the OHL as an assistant then head coach until the end of the 1999–2000 season. In that time, they finished near the bottom of the OHL standings.
Futa would coach for two more seasons, as an assistant coach and assistant GM in Oshawa before earning a job as the General Manager of the Owen Sound Attack. In his first season, Owen Sound would finish 14th in the league, but just two seasons later, Futa guided them to second in the OHL and earned the Executive of the Year award that season. He would stay with the Attack for two more seasons before earning a role as the co-director of amateur scouting with the Los Angeles Kings in 2007.
From 2007–08 to 2013–14, Futa and the Kings went through one of the best periods of drafting in organizational history. While they nailed their first-round picks, taking Drew Doughty, Brayden Schenn, Derek Forbort, Tanner Pearson, and Adrian Kempe, they also landed later picks including seventh-rounders Dominik Kubalik and Nic Dowd. In fact, from the 2008 to 2014 drafts, they got NHL games out of 36 of their 54 picks, a whopping 67% of their picks. Most teams average NHL games out of a third of their picks.
From there he would serve in various roles in the organization including director of player personnel, director of hockey operations, and assistant general manager, winning two Cups with the team. In his role as AGM, he was tasked with running the Ontario Reign for the 2017–18 season. In that season, they finished above 0.500 despite having very few big names on the roster aside from Cal Petersen and Jack Campbell in net.
Futa spent the 2021–22 season in Carolina as the special assistant to the GM, but took this past year off doing mostly media work.
Why would the Flames hire Mike Futa?
Futa is a guy who probably deserves a shot as an NHL GM, simply because of his body of work. He has held pretty well every NHL job aside from this one, and has done a reasonably good job across the board. While the Flames do not have Darryl Sutter—the former Kings’ coach—in the organization anymore, having a GM who has experience building a team from the draft that won two Stanley Cups would be really good for the organization. The Flames have been trying to build from the draft since time immemorial but were simply unable to do so. This is where Futa excels.
The arguments against Futa are that he has spent nearly his entire NHL career with one organization, and that would be bringing in an external person who has been acculturated to just one way of doing things at the NHL level. Furthermore, it would be bringing in someone with little connection to the Flames and the franchise, with just a few players, most notably Tyler Toffoli, having ties to the Kings.
But if the Flames do feel that an external hire is the way to go, they could do far worse than Mike Futa. The executive has a large body of work, has won two Stanley Cups, and has done pretty well everything you can ask of a GM at this point. I’m not sure they go this route, but it could be a strong add for an organization that needs someone like Futa.
Calgary Flames GM Candidate Profiles
Check out our previous general manager candidate profiles here to get the full run-down on who Calgary should have considered and why they would be good or bad fits with the team: