BUFFALO — His team seemingly stuck on .500, Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Tuesday he has heard some of the desire for change.
But without using the word in an interview tonight at First Niagara Center before his team met the Buffalo Sabres, Cheveldayoff again vowed he’s not one to do anything rash.
There are multiple, easy avenues that seem like they’re the way to go but there are 30 teams in this league that are doing the same thing and trying to effect that ultimate goal and that’s to win the Stanley Cup.
"You always, in any situation, look to improve," Cheveldayoff said. "If you’re able to find a way to improve, then you try to act on it. But change doesn’t always equate to improvement. Change can certainly placate phone calls, emails on the different venues out there but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the proper direction to go."
He made it clear he’s active in exploring any and all possibilities.
"On this side of it, you make calls, you take calls, you’re always looking and talking to different people within the game, other managers, your scouts," he said. "But again, in this salary-cap world, contract world, the way the things there are different things that come into play, term on contracts, lack of term on contracts, unrestricted free agents that teams in different venues will maybe give you but you have to give them something that’s maybe a building block for you that will eventually be a building block for them in the future.
"There are multiple, easy avenues that seem like they’re the way to go but there are 30 teams in this league that are doing the same thing and trying to effect that ultimate goal and that’s to win the Stanley Cup."
On his clear direction to draft and develop, Cheveldayoff quickly pointed to that very process going on during his team’s first 36 games of this NHL season, in the names of Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.
"We’re fortunate," he said. "We’re seeing two young players in our lineup each and every night who are essentially growing in front of us. To have a 19-year-old defenceman and a 20-year-old centreman both contribute to a win last night, playing 20 minutes in a very tight one-goal hockey game where the coach had the confidence to throw them out there all the time, that’s growth.
"Now those same guys, there have obviously been mistakes made but they’re coming back and going out there. But that’s growing through development. Would we like to have more young guys that are ready to play? Absolutely, but this is part of the process."
Cheveldayoff was asked directly by the Free Press if his coach, Claude Noel, is doing a good job.
"Our coaches work extremely hard," he said. "They’re working at a lot of avenues of things. Ultimately everyone is kind of judged by the wins and losses and you fail to see the process it gets to. Coaching in this league is a tough job. There’s lots of second-guessing that goes on everywhere. And that’s the nature of it when you’re in the public eye like this. Everyone’s got their own interpretation of whether someone’s doing a good job, not doing a good job. At the end of the day, I know that they’re working hard and doing all they can."