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Chevy's new deal hailed by Jets players

'It's great for the organization,' Bogosian says

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It's worth noting that criticism on these matters -- the two-year contract extension granted Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff -- almost never comes from within but the strength of the endorsement from the locker-room on Wednesday does reflect the team's feeling of being on the same page with its hockey leader.

"For me personally, I'm very comfortable with what he does and I have a lot of respect for what he's done in the past and what he can do," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "I'm excited to have him around. He's one of the big reasons that I think a lot of guys decided to sign long-term here and I'm happy for him."

Cheveldayoff, 43, came on board with a five-year deal with the organization only days after the transfer from Atlanta was announced in 2011. Now his contract runs through 2017-18.

In his busiest summer of contracts yet, the GM re-signed 10 free agents in the off-season.

Ladd said the GM's style is conducive to the progress for which they're searching.

"He's around but he doesn't say a whole lot," the captain said. "He has a very respectable manner and he's good to all the guys, makes sure everyone has what they need and from my standpoint, treats everyone fairly.

"If you look at what he's done, the draft picks we've been able to accumulate and the direction we're heading, he's done a great job. The ownership has put a lot of trust into each and every one of us so now it's our turn to return the favour and take steps in the right direction."

One of the summer free agents to re-up was defenceman Zach Bogosian, at seven years and $36 million.

"It's great for the organization," Bogosian said of Cheveldayoff's deal. "Good for him. He deserves it.

"I think it's huge when you have a common goal in the room and you know where you're going and where you want to go. When I was in Atlanta, it was so up and down that I wasn't really sure what was going to happen.

"Now that we're here and we're all settled in, I think everyone's trying to get ready for the season and get things going, it's an exciting time of year. When you have a common goal, that's to win, you're moving in the right direction."

Right-winger Blake Wheeler, another restricted free agent who returned with a six-year, $33.6-million package, said the message from above in Winnipeg is consistent.

"It just reinforces what the culture they want to establish is," Wheeler said. "You look at (Jets chairman and governor) Mark Chipman and certainly Chevy, too, and I think they stand for the right things.

"They're about bringing a blue-collar attitude, a certain work ethic to this locker-room and that's the culture we're trying to build. They're passionate about winning and that's the most important thing. From having been with them the last two years and having dealt with them quite extensively this summer, that's what they're all about -- they want to win.

"It's certainly something I agree with."

Cheveldayoff, at Wednesday's press conference, lauded the staff around him -- in particular he named assistant GM's Craig Heisinger and Larry Simmons -- that has helped him earn the trust of the team's ownership. Given that his revised contract was the only deal announced, it will now be up to the GM to send that faith down the line.

And Cheveldayoff again spoke of patience and planning, drafting and developing as key elements to what he's doing.

"I think the real challenge is to resist the opportunity to try to accelerate this at a great cost," Cheveldayoff said, citing examples of free agency. "You really want to make things happen, those things to fall into your lap... but then you go through the process to see what it would take and those are the kinds of things that are challenges.

"You think that there's an easier or quicker way to try and do it but then you start drilling down and getting into it and then you realize you have to stay the course.

"I'm embracing this opportunity to help build this franchise."

Chipman said his faith in Cheveldayoff, based on the past and for the future, is more than strong.

"Over the past couple of years, I've learned that we've probably underestimated his abilities," Chipman said. "I cannot tell you how much confidence I have in Kevin's abilities. He's fit in seamlessly with our entire organization. I feel like we've been working together for far more than the last couple of years."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 19, 2013 D2

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Updated on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 6:56 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds videos

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