Kevin Cheveldayoff signed a 2-year extension with the Winnipeg Jets today, and reaction was quite mixed on twitter. I have a few thoughts of my own on the subject I would like to bring forward, focusing on: the timing; where the pressure now shifts to; how this could change his approach; and a few of the nice things said today.
I think I speak for almost everyone when I say that the timing of this is a little weird. No, not that it was announced in the middle of training camp just over two weeks from opening night, but because of the state of the team. Kevin Cheveldayoff has been in control of the Winnipeg Jets for just over two years now. Admittedly, they have been two very peculiar years, but he has had two years nonetheless, and little has truly changed in this team’s overall standing.
Yet, despite there still being three seasons remaining on his contract, TNSE has decided that his moves to this point have been sufficient enough to warrant an extension? Yes, he has locked up the core. Yes, he has apparently solved the issue with the second line (the jury is still out on that one), and yes, the overall depth throughout the franchise has improved via the draft. But no, he hasn’t made any truly “large scale” moves. No, he did not make any changes to a group of core players that were put together by a DIFFERENT GM and have yet to show any true success, and no, he has not yet address the mistake of Ondrej Pavelec. Therefore, I do not see where he has truly earned himself more time with the team…yet. I would have found it much more suitable for the team to wait and see exactly how these decisions he has made pan out. Wait to see AT LEAST how this season goes. Wait to see if the team Chevy has locked up long term with can at minimum make the playoffs. Generally you see people rewarded after they have success, not the other way around.
Coach Noel: The Fall Guy
One thing was made very clear today. The Winnipeg Jets believe in Kevin "Harvey Dent" Cheveldayoff. That means should things go wrong, someone else is going to pay the price. Who will that someone else be, you ask?
If True North is this confident in their General Manager and the decisions he is making, they must feel confident in the team he has decided to supply the coach with. That means that any failures, slides, or travesties that occur will lead to a finger being pointed directly at the head coach. Pressure’s on Claude. Can you handle it?
The Vote of Confidence
Continuing on the point that Mark Chipman & Co. clearly have faith in Kevin Cheveldayoff’s decision making, it may lead to him feeling a wee bit more comfortable. With quotes like, “I hold Chevy in high regard”, “One of the biggest parts (of the plan) is having the team in the hands of Chevy”, and ”I cannot tell you how much confidence I have in his abilities”, it’s not hard to believe that job security is not an issue with the Jets GM. Could this mean bigger, bolder moves in the future?
Without the fear of immediate repercussion for his actions, Chevy could be more willing to take a chance, or correct a mistake he has made without having to pay for it with his job. Although Chipman made comment implying Chevy has yet to make a mistake, I find it hard to believe that the entire organization is perfectly okay with Pavelec as the starting goaltender. The comfort could now be there to make the decision to buy him out if a suitable replacement comes along. Or even fire the head coach that Chipman has a relationship with. It’s something we haven’t seen from this management group before, but if things don’t improve those big changes may come.
Other Nice Tidbits
There were a few other quotes and discussion points today that I just want to point out and comment on as well.
1- It was nice to hear from Chipman today. The True North “Cone of Silence” tends to be a powerful repellent when it wants to be, but today Mark opened up a little bit and explained the direction of this team and the thought processes they use. Almost like a solar eclipse, it was fascinating to see.
2- If Andrew Ladd was speaking the truth, it seems like that locker room really loves Kevin Cheveldayoff. He commented today that Chevy himself (just being the human he is) was a factor in a lot of the free agents wanting to stay here. One thing that was talked about a LOT in regards to this team coming back was building a culture that players like to stick around. It’s a main factor that will play into the long-term success, and it seems to be working. (Burmi aside that is)
3- Speaking of Burmi, I just want to make it clear again that he DID NOT LEAVE BECAUSE OF THE CITY. For some reason this topic seems to come up now and again and it annoys me. He didn’t leave because he hated Winnipeg. He left because he was feuding with the head coach, wanted to play at home, and got offered more money than he would have in the NHL. You would do it too.
To wrap up: Kevin Cheveldayoff may not have earned his extension yet, but for Jets fans everywhere, I hope he earns it soon.