Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chevy keeping steady trigger finger

No rush to make deal, but always on lookout

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BOSTON -- Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Sunday he's got a much better handle on his team than at the start of the NHL season, but he's not done evaluating.

In other words, those impatient for changes to the Jets' lineup will likely have to wait a while longer.

"We're in the same situation as many teams," Cheveldayoff said after 41 games have yielded a record of 20-16-5 for his team. "We're always looking to see what's available out there.

"We're always having conversations but to the extent that someone's ready to pull the trigger, those things really aren't planned. They evolve.

"Sometimes the opportunities present themselves and you feel you have to act. But there haven't been any of those come up yet. To say when and where, that's hard to speculate."

The rookie GM was eager to say that he has liked what he has seen in terms of his young team's growth.

"Growth from both individuals and from team play," he said. "There are tremendous positives in those areas. When you're there daily, maybe you don't see the growth as easily. But when you step away from the team, then come back and watch, you can see the different areas that the team has progressed in.

"We're getting to know our own team, these people. After 41 games, you have a really good handle on the personalities of all the players, have a handle on their games and from a growth perspective, you get to see where some of these guys are going.

"And in the standings, we're in the thick of things. We'd like to be higher. When you're well in it, you'd like to be on top. And when you're on top, you're still looking to improve."

As for the entire organization's status halfway through the season, Cheveldayoff said the Jets have caught up in many areas after a frenzied summer that saw the franchise move from Atlanta in a very short time frame.

"All of that is continuing," he said. "We are at this point tremendously more comfortable with the people and knowing what we have.

"People are always asking me, 'Are you caught up and are you in a good spot?' The reality is that when you look at things, we're in a good spot for everything concerning next year. We are doing well with our draft preparation. We are doing well with our free-agent preparation, things that all teams work on throughout the season.

"Where we've had to catch up and we're continuing to catch up is with our own team. And it's not just the NHL team, but St. John's, too, and with our draft picks."

Cheveldayoff made it clear he's not the coach, but that didn't stop him from having an opinion regarding the on-ice discipline of the Jets. At the halfway mark, they have an NHL-worst 61 minutes 42 seconds more penalty-killing time than power-play time.

Winnipeg has been short-handed 172 times this season, second-highest total in the league.

"The only thing you can change is your own play," Cheveldayoff said. "Claude (Noel, Jets' coach) has talked about it, and the players have, that you can't change the past and all you can do is try not to make the mistakes in the future.

"For us to be successful, for us to make a charge and to make noise or to do anything in the playoffs, we're going to have to change that differential. It will be up to our individual players.

"But you can't predict these things. They do happen and certainly we can be more conscious of (not) taking more penalties."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2012 C1

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