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This article was published 12/2/2015 (2080 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
IT took Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff less than eight days to move his team past the track-suit revolt centring around Evander Kane.
Cheveldayoff pulled the trigger Wednesday morning on his biggest move since he took the job in June 2011, when he dealt Kane, defenceman Zach Bogosian and goalie prospect Jason Kasdorf, a Winnipeg product, to the Buffalo Sabres for defenceman Tyler Myers, right-winger Drew Stafford, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux and a late firstround draft pick in 2015.
After being a healthy scratch a week ago Tuesday in Vancouver, when he apparently ran afoul of his teammates, Kane then elected to have his injured shoulder operated on, putting him out for four to six months.
In the wake of the incident, the Jets claimed they were not distracted. They have played like that, going 2-0-2 in their last four games.
"Like I said, we’re a tight-knit group and we don’t have any issues," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said before the team departed for Nashville Wednesday. "We’re just focused on winning hockey games."
"I don’t know if it would have been an issue," said right-winger Blake Wheeler. "I think we’ve been dealing with adversity all year for different reasons."
With that adversity, mainly a raft of injuries at mid-season, the Jets have posted a 28-18-10 record, good for 66 points and currently in control of the Western Conference’s first wild-card berth with 26 regular-season games to play.
Even though he has consistently taken the high road on the Kane incident — taking whatever heat was coming his way for making Kane a "coach’s decision" healthy scratch in Vancouver — Jets coach Paul Maurice sounded more than eager to have the Kane matter behind him and his team.
"(It’s a) resolution insofar as the speculation that he was on the move, or you had to wait for him at training camp next year to come back and play," the coach said. "That’s a big piece that wasn’t going to be a Winnipeg Jet for the remainder of the year, so now we don’t have to wonder what our team looks like in August or how Evander would have fit.
"So yeah, there is some."
Cheveldayoff hadn’t made a single NHL player-for-player trade in his entire term until Wednesday, preferring a cautious, ponderous approach and always emphasizing the organization’s vision for draft and develop, a vision that didn’t include trading the future for quick fixes.
"This trade came about by those same principles," Cheveldayoff said. "This was not a knee-jerk reaction. We may not have been the most active trading team in the league but that doesn’t necessarily mean we weren’t active behind the scenes."
The immediate impact of the trade on the ice wasn’t fully disclosed by Maurice but he could well place Stafford with Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault. Myers will assume Bogosian’s major minutes and Maurice said Dustin Byfuglien, after four more games as a forward, will go back to the Jets’ blueline where he played like an all-star from Dec. 3 until the Kane incident.
Ladd said the feeling in the dressing room was initially mixed, as it is with most trades.
"I think anytime something like this happens, it’s always sad to see guys who’ve been a part of the organization leave," Ladd said. "But you’re also excited about the prospect of bringing two guys in who can help our team win right now.
"Hopefully the two guys coming here are excited to be a part of a playoff run and help us try to get some wins."
Ladd’s linemate, Blake Wheeler, said Myers and Stafford have much to look forward to.
"It’s going to be really easy," Wheeler said. "We’re such a tight-knit group. We take care of our own. I think you’ve heard the word family at times. We’ve got two new members of our family. We’ll try to get them fit in as fast as possible."
Stafford, who along with Myers is expected in the Jets lineup tonight in Nashville, told Sportsnet there’s reason for optimism.
"Everyone knows how it’s been going here lately," said the 29-year-old right-winger. "It’s been extremely frustrating and challenging. Not making the playoffs year after year, it’s extremely tough, especially since I’ve been here so long.
"To get that chance... to finish off the year, I’m going to do my best to compete for these guys and help them win games."
The other important element of Wednesday’s deal was its timing. By eliminating any issue associated with the Kane incident, Cheveldayoff has made an impact move three-plus weeks before the NHL’s March 2 trade deadline, leaving him some evaluation time. And with a healthy list of prospects plus two first-round picks in the coming draft, he does have assets if he believes further strengthening of his team is warranted in the short-term.
"The earlier the better for sure," Maurice said about Wednesday’s trade.
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