It's his time, his show, but Keith McCambridge is also well aware of his roots.

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This article was published 14/7/2011 (4002 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

john woods / winnipeg free press archives
Assistant coach Keith McCambridge (left) and head coach Claude Noel strategize a game during their days running the Manitoba Moose.

JOHN.WOODS@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

john woods / winnipeg free press archives Assistant coach Keith McCambridge (left) and head coach Claude Noel strategize a game during their days running the Manitoba Moose.

It's his time, his show, but Keith McCambridge is also well aware of his roots.

And that's why the new head coach of the Winnipeg Jets' American Hockey League affiliate in St. John's was quick to tip his hat to the men who helped him most during his last two years as an assistant with the Manitoba Moose. "It gave me a chance to learn from Scott Arniel and Claude Noel over the past couple of years," McCambridge said Thursday in a conference call after his appointment finally became official.

"To learn their philosophies and their beliefs and how they run a team, how they motivate guys... Now I have the opportunity to implement my own philosophies on how to drive a team. It's something I've been chomping at the bit to get started on."

"It was the next logical step for myself, to get that head-coach experience in the AHL. This is an opportunity to work for a great organization, both in Winnipeg and in St. John's. That was what really put it over the top."

The 37-year-old product of Thompson previously spent six seasons with the ECHL's Alaska Aces as a player-assistant and then head coach. He carved out an 11-year pro career as a defenceman with teams in the AHL, IHL and ECHL after being drafted by the Calgary Flames in the eighth round of the 1994 NHL entry draft.

SIGN HERE: Restricted free agent Brett Festerling signed his two-way qualifying offer Thursday that would pay him $105,000 in the AHL and $577,500 in the NHL. Contract talks are continuing with Zach Bogosian and with Blake Wheeler, who has a date set with an arbitrator next month if no deal can be reached.

The other Jet restricted free agents are Spencer Machacek, Riley Holzapfel, Kenndal McArdle, Arturs Kulda and Ben Maxwell, all of whom have until today to accept the team's qualifying offer. If they do not, the team retains their rights and continues to negotiate, albeit with the risk of them playing for less in 2011-12.

WELCOME ABOARD: The Jets have plans to beef up their scouting staff but, as expected, head scout Marcel Comeau -- who ran the draft for the club last month -- will remain, as will director of player personnel Mark Dobson, pro scout John Perpich and amateur scouts Evgeny Bogdanovich, Tavis MacMillan and Mark Hillier.

The Globe and Mail is reporting manager of player development Ryan Bowness and video coach Tony Borgford, along with assistant GM Larry Simmons, will likely be retained from the Atlanta Thrashers organization.

FYI: The Hockey News ranked the Jets among the five least-improved teams this off-season, although GM Kevin Cheveldayoff insisted last week it's still a long time until the puck drops. Wrote Adam Proteau of THN:

"Certainly GM Kevin Cheveldayoff & Co. are counting on internal improvement from the franchise's youngsters. Unfortunately, they haven't brought in anyone to provide more guidance to a group that lost its way after a strong start to the 2010-11 campaign. Winnipeg will be overjoyed to have NHL hockey back after 15 years, but they'll likely have to wait at least another year before a return to the NHL post-season.'

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca