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Chevy previews qualities he seeks

Jets' GM gives wide-ranging talk in run-up to draft rounds

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Nobody but his most trusted advisers and scouts are ever going to see Kevin Cheveldayoff's rankings list ahead of next weekend's NHL entry draft in Pittsburgh.

But those in attendance at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday at the Delta Hotel got a pretty in-depth tour of how Cheveldayoff's Winnipeg Jets are preparing for the event, where as of today, they have the ninth pick in Friday's first round of selections.


"We're working very hard behind the scenes," the Jets GM told the audience, declaring the organization's goal is to pick the best player available.

He also hinted strongly at what the Jets are looking for next week.

"Character, speed, skill and hockey sense," were the four traits he outlined. "All these different aspects go into (how) we talk about a player at the scouting level."

He said he's urged his scouts from Day 1 to form their own lists and opinions, not follow the lead of numerous publications and websites who claim to know the proper ranking of the draft-eligible youngsters.

"You draft a player because you want him in the organization, not because he's next on the list," Cheveldayoff said. "If you go to draft a player, you draft him because you want him on your team. Not because he's on the next publication's list, not because you worry about the next person saying should woulda coulda draft this guy."

Once the Jets make their picks, they will engage in a first in the middle of July. The team will conduct a week-long prospects camp for those chosen, as well as for previous draft picks and green pros.

Last summer, the organization, in a frenzy to relocate from Atlanta to Winnipeg in just 106 days, didn't have the time to set up such a mini-camp.

But Cheveldayoff said it's important because the Jets will "begin teaching these young players the core values of your franchise right from the start."

He said that with the ninth pick currently, the franchise has not brought some of the top or likely picks to Winnipeg to further interview or examine them, like the higher-picking Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs have done in recent weeks.

Thursday's chamber of commerce attendees had a full-meal Jets deal, including a punched-up "True North" shout during the event-opening national anthem.

Cheveldayoff's speaking theme was how the team's organizational structure is being built. He touched on many internal and philosophical aspects of the club's first year, including his own vision for success.

The 42-year-old GM is big on setting foundations as a platform for future victories

He cited the need to "build on the heritage, honour the brand, embrace change and invest in the sport." On top of that, his strategy has been to incorporate important values such as communication, generosity, teamwork, performance and accessibility in the building process.


Cheveldayoff noted that much had been built before he was given the general manger's job last June, crediting the Manitoba Moose as an integral part of what's going on with the NHL team today.

"(They were) an archrival of mine for many, many years, but a group that I admired from afar, admired how they did business," said the former Chicago Wolves GM.

Cheveldayoff said he wants to be realistic as he tries to lead the franchise to higher levels.

"It's important that expectations are managed so the paths to goals don't get muddied," he said. "But don't try to fool anyone; you'll only be fooling yourself."

But later, he told reporters he welcomes the increasing expectations that Winnipeg fans will hold once the team's honeymoon period is over.

"I don't think their expectations are going to be any higher than ours internally," he said.



Get no satisfaction

JETS GM Kevin Cheveldayoff made one thing clear Thursday about the team's future -- a few emotional victories in the NHL's first season back in Winnipeg will not be laurels upon which to rest.

He left patrons at the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce luncheon with this thought from basketball coach Bobby Knight: "Satisfaction is the first step towards defeat. Don't ever forget that. Never be satisfied."

Added the GM: "I'm not going to be satisfied for one single minute. We, as an organization, are not going to take for granted the opportunity we have in front of us. We have a big responsibility."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 15, 2012 C5

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