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Cheveldayoff exploring options, but won't act rashly

Admits frustration with Jets, especially power play

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BUFFALO -- Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff opted not to express a vote of confidence in his coach, Claude Noel, possibly knowing the value of such declarations.

Instead, Cheveldayoff simply pointed out his coaching staff's work ethic Tuesday night when asked at First Niagara Center if his coach was doing a good job.

"Our coaches work extremely hard," Cheveldayoff 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."

There is some chatter among Jets fans -- their team stuck near .500 much of the season -- about change, including on the coaching issue.

'Coaching in this league is a tough job. There's lots of second-guessing that goes on everywhere'

-- Kevin Cheveldayoff

But the GM was steadfast that he'd be doing nothing rash.

"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 improve. 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.

"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."

The GM did admit he's frustrated about some elements of his team this season, especially the power play.

 

"I'm like everybody in that you want the result to be on the positive side of the ledger," he said. "It's easy to point out the negative aspects ... and obviously when you lose a couple of games late in the game like we managed to do early in the season, then even the ones like the St. Louis game where you play a 1-1 game against arguably one of the top teams in the conference and you don't get anything to show for it, they can be frustrating in the sense that you look you're there, look like you're close and you get nothing to show for it."

The Jets, 9-7-5 in one-goal games coming into Tuesday, could have made good use of a few more advantage goals, he said.

"We saw that (Monday) night that a power-play goal and you're on the good side of a one-goal game," he said. "It's a very, very emotional game on the high and low side of it. We've experienced a lot of that this year."

Among the other subjects raised during Tuesday's interview was Cheveldayoff's long-stated policy of draft and develop.

He was clear in repeating he's not changing that, quickly pointing to that very process with Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.

"It's the best for long-term success," the GM said of his philosophy. "The hardest part about that philosophy is the time it takes for those draft picks to come to fruition.

"We're fortunate. 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."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2013 C1

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