August 17, 2019

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Opinion

Maligned Chevy has been right all along

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/3/2015 (1628 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Oh, it's been easy to take pokes at Kevin Cheveldayoff. The pokes have been short-sighted, cheap and wrong, but easy nonetheless, as smug so often is.

The Winnipeg Jets' GM isn't perfect. His plan isn't without its flaws. But as of late Monday night his team sat fifth in the Western Conference and his pool of prospects is considered among the very best in the NHL.

In less than four years he's taken one of the worst franchises in the NHL -- so bad commissioner Gary Bettman allowed it to relocate due to terrible fortune on and off the ice -- and turned it into one of promise. An organization where profit is being realized and glory seems closer than ever.

The Jets will make the playoffs this year and be better in the coming years. After three seasons on the outside, Cheveldayoff has his team on the verge of gaining a berth in the Stanley Cup tournament. The angst is forgivable, despite not having much of a basis in reason.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/3/2015 (1628 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Oh, it's been easy to take pokes at Kevin Cheveldayoff. The pokes have been short-sighted, cheap and wrong, but easy nonetheless, as smug so often is.

The Winnipeg Jets' GM isn't perfect. His plan isn't without its flaws. But as of late Monday night his team sat fifth in the Western Conference and his pool of prospects is considered among the very best in the NHL.

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff

MELISSA TAIT / WINNIPEG FREE PRE

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff

In less than four years he's taken one of the worst franchises in the NHL — so bad commissioner Gary Bettman allowed it to relocate due to terrible fortune on and off the ice — and turned it into one of promise. An organization where profit is being realized and glory seems closer than ever.

The Jets will make the playoffs this year and be better in the coming years. After three seasons on the outside, Cheveldayoff has his team on the verge of gaining a berth in the Stanley Cup tournament. The angst is forgivable, despite not having much of a basis in reason.

Winnipeg is in its fourth season back in the NHL. The team that arrived from Atlanta likely could have been fast-tracked into the post-season by trading prospects and picks to augment the roster. But the foundation would still be rotten. Cheveldayoff didn't want a fix that tasted good for a few seasons but left the organization with gut rot. He pursued a path that would give the Jets the opportunity for extended success. Long-term planning for long-term success.

Now the Jets have both a present and a future. Did it really take that long? Go ask the folks in Edmonton and Toronto about a broken organization unable to sort itself out.

Shortcuts can work but they're often a gamble. Cheveldayoff couldn't put Winnipeg's second crack in the NHL at risk. A deliberate plan and the discipline to see it through was what this franchise and this city required.

Winnipeg is unique. It's small and has many obstacles other markets do not. Cheveldayoff grasped this and began to plot. And, yes, to plod. He couldn't afford to get off track. So he took his time and carefully picked his steps.

Cheveldayoff didn't exhibit the flash some wanted. He didn't make bold but empty promises. He didn't try to trade or buy his way out of a hole.

There's no genius behind what the Jets have done and are doing. They have a template and they follow it. Boring? Sure. But is exciting what you want in your management team? Or would you prefer efficient and effective?

The payroll is in check and there's an abundance of talent about to turn pro and push the group currently in the NHL. The deepest projected draft in years is coming up and Cheveldayoff holds two picks in the first round.

A few years back when the Jets so clearly had holes in the roster, I asked Cheveldayoff about making a deal or two to fill them. He explained that to fix those shortcomings he'd only create others within his organization, that he needed to build up reserves to deal from strength.

The last month has seen him use that balance to deepen his NHL roster, while at the same time adding to his futures pool. In the last month we've watched him bolster his NHL roster, add prospects and upgrade his position in a draft some are describing as generational in its depth.

Many are raving about Cheveldayoff's work over the last month and they should be. But it's the big picture that's worth really cheering about. The Jets are based in reality. They are not a mirage destined to quickly fade.

A parade is a long way off. If the Jets were to get into the playoffs this season only be to be bounced in the first round, it wouldn't be classified as a shocker.

But Cheveldayoff's work will ensure they are back again. And again. His consistent approach is going to produce consistent results.

The Winnipeg Jets are about to become relevant, and yes, maybe that could have happened sooner. But they're also going to remain relevant for a number of years thanks to the base carefully built by Cheveldayoff and his team.

It's about expectations. Cheveldayoff wanted to be more than a one-hit wonder.

He wanted it all and he wanted it to last.

You decide which is better.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

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