Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chevy solid selection as GM

True North hiring proven winner to head up hockey operations

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Stability is a trait in the most successful of sports franchises and handing Kevin Cheveldayoff a five-year deal to run its hockey operations department is a step in that direction for True North.

Cheveldayoff is a winner, of that there is no question. He's piled up five hockey titles in a management career dating back to 1997. A Stanley Cup, two Turner Cups and a pair of Calder Cups give the 41-year-old Cheveldayoff the street cred any up-and-comer would love to possess.

True North will announce Cheveldayoff's appointment as general manager of Winnipeg's yet-to-be-named NHL team at a press conference today at 2 p.m.

"You can't argue about Chevy being a winner. We went to six finals and won four in our 11 years together with the Wolves," said John Anderson, who coached the Chicago Wolves during Cheveldayoff's tenure as the franchise's GM. "There were lots of people involved in our success, but it started with Chevy. He works hard and knows what it takes to win."

Anderson also coached the Atlanta Thrashers for two seasons and knows the roster as well as anyone.

"There's some great building blocks there but it's a young team. Giving Chevy a five-year deal gives him time to let young players mature. He can do what's right for the team and not what will give him job security," said Anderson.

"Take Zach Bogosian. He's a good player and he's got a chance to be special. But it's going to take time. Look at Hartford and Chris Pronger. They couldn't wait and they traded him to St. Louis. I'm not saying Bogosian is Chris Pronger, but Chevy can wait and find out. He doesn't have to make mistakes because he's on the clock. He can be patient and build. Everything about this is smart for Winnipeg."

Cheveldayoff is the GM and will partner with Craig Heisinger to run the hockey operations department.

Heisinger's title is unknown at this stage, but his role will be to work alongside Cheveldayoff.

The new GM will be allowed to sit at the NHL draft table for the Winnipeg franchise with no objections from the Chicago Blackhawks.

Picking a coach will be Cheveldayoff's first order of business.

Manitoba Moose head coach Claude Noel had the inside track with True North management and he's known Cheveldayoff since their IHL days. Noel coached the Milwaukee Admirals in the same division as Cheveldayoff's Wolves and there's a healthy respect between the two men.

Hiring Noel would be an extension of the stability True North has long viewed as an asset. Consider the Moose fired only one coach and one GM in their history, when Jean Perron got the axe from both positions in Year 1, and one gets an understanding of how much stability is valued.

Heisinger held the GM post for nine years. Change for the sake of change is not part of the True North mission statement.

Rewarding people for doing their job well is a phrase in the Moose hockey bible and that bodes well for Noel and the rest of the hockey operations staff.

There's little time to spare for the organization as it gets ready to make the move from the AHL to the NHL and keeping quality people in place will ease the transition.

Cheveldayoff is a nice combination of experience, accomplishment and small-town values. He'll work hard to get things done and won't look for praise when he succeeds or provide excuses when he fails.

He may be a new piece of furniture, but Cheveldayoff will mix in nicely with the older couches and chairs.

Stability. It's a nice thing to have and True North is now, to borrow from an old Chevy commercial, solid as a rock.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 8, 2011 C2

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


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