The Winnipeg Jets decided they liked what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has been doing in the three years the team has been in the Manitoba capital.
The main reason for his extension, Cheveldayoff has built a winning culture within the locker room and making it a place where players want to come – something the Jets 1.0 found very difficult to do.
With the draft success (with some former Atlanta scouts, which was some cause for concern with their draft history and inconsistency there) since the Jets have moved, he has found that he has been successfully building a strong team with Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, Nic Petan, Josh Morrissey, Eric Comrie, and Adam Lowry along with adding to the roster via free agency and trades.
In true True North fashion (no pun intended), they signed Cheveldayoff to a meagre, safe, two-year extension. But that may be the Jets being too safe.
Let me explain.
Cheveldayoff has built winners, maybe not in the NHL directly, but he has shown that his mantra fits into the mold of True North’s vision for the team (probably why he got the job in the first place).
How many GM’s build a winner and are not around when the day of glory finally comes to fruition.
For what Cheveldayoff has been able to succeed at in his first two seasons (and not full, "regular" seasons at that), coming into year three should be the real start of the evaluation of the Jets 2.0 first GM.
He has changed the culture of the franchise from one that drafted poorly and tried to build a winner in Altanta with multiple top 10 picks over the years in Georgia.
In Winnipeg, the team has had on and off-ice success that Atlanta did not ever really garner (except their one division championship and one playoff berth) and the face and look of the team is changing evermore.
The depth in the organization is growing – young draft picks along with Devin Setoguchi, Olli Jokinen, and others.
Players see Winnipeg and the franchise that was mired in losing a place they would want to come.
For all Cheveldayoff has been able to do in only two years (remember not full seasons), his evaluation needs to begin now. So why just two more years? Why not three to four?
If not three to four, who’s to say that Chevy will be around to see any fruits of his labour?
With True North, it’s not likely to happen. The Jets have the most patient and trusting owner in the league, but also the owner who has the most passionate about winning and building a winner correctly.
Let’s take Dave Nonis for example in Toronto.
Nonis signed a five-year contract extension in July after the Maple Leafs made the playoffs for the first time since the good old Mats Sundin days.
Truth is, Dave Nonis did none of the heavy lifting. Most of his big deals that he has put on the Leafs have come this off-season with shipping Matt Frattin out and getting goalie Jonathan Bernier to compete for the starting job with James Reimer and adding Dave Bolland.
In Toronto, the Leafs team that made the playoffs was made by the heavy lifting of ex-GM Brian Burke.
Just go down the roster to find all the "Burke-esque" players: Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, James Reimer, John-Michael Liles, and so on and so on.
Another example: Stan Bowman in Chicago signed a two-year extension and he just won the Stanley Cup (again)!
In 2010, Bowman had the great pleasure of just sliding into the GM position of a team that was mostly on cruise control to the Stanley Cup (thanks Dale Tallon!).
But he dismantled that team and re-built another Stanley Cup champion three years later!
And all he gets is a two-year deal?
You can clearly see how organizational philosophies differ from franchise to franchise in the NHL.
But for Cheveldayoff’s sake, I do not want to see him become another Brian Burke or Dale Tallon.
It might be the safe, economical, and what Chevy deserves for what he has been able to do in a short time in Winnipeg, but it is just too short.