When Kevin Cheveldayoff arrived at the NHL Scouting Combine, it was in an entirely different role than his time here in years past.
It was at last year's Combine that the first seeds were planted that landed Cheveldayoff, then an assistant GM with the Chicago Blackhawks, as GM of the Winnipeg Jets.
Hired by the Jets on June 8, 2011, he had to hit the ground running heading into last year's draft. This year, he says, it's a bit different of an experience for him.
"We feel much more prepared," he told NHL.com. "I don't know whether we feel more relaxed because I think as everyone around the NHL has seen, the market in Winnipeg is really very hockey crazy, and with that comes an immense responsibility to make sure that you serve them well and take the responsibility very seriously."
Cheveldayoff said that work has continued this week at the Scouting Combine as he and his scouting staff continued to build their knowledge base for the 2012 NHL Draft. As of now the Jets will pick ninth.
"It's very exciting, it's very exhilarating," he said of the Combine. "The amount of work and the amount of preparation that goes into it, that doesn't change because whatever role you're in with an NHL organization, you know the importance of this, you know the importance of the amateur draft and the re-stocking and adding to your organization from a talent perspective. You're very, very prepared. But when you're the guy that is the general manager, it does take on a little bit more special meaning, when you see the kids and know you're really impacting their lives and they can really impact yours at some point in time. It's an exciting time for them but it's an exciting time for the organization, as well."
In their first season back in the League, the Jets went 37-35-10, and their 84 points were 11th in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of a playoff spot.
Cheveldayoff said the biggest thing he learned in his first season was having a strong support staff.
"Without the people around you, it's a very, very lonely business," he said. "That's why you need those people around you. You need that support, you need that idea generation. You need that strong group of people that are all pulling in the same direction. We're fortunate in that we have a great staff, from top to bottom, that is a very unified group. The better I can manage them and lead them, the greater good our organization will be in."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK