Winnipeg Jets General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff, addressed local media at the MTS Centre on Wednesday morning. He answered some questions and shared his thoughts and comments on the 2012-13 Jets’ season and what’s in store for the upcoming summer.
“This year was a very unique year,” said Cheveldayoff. “From a team standpoint it was interesting, at times, trying as well. It was a season like no other. The magnitude of each and every game was tough to quantify. Every game that you played meant something in the standings.”
After the season came to a close last Thursday night, Chevy met with the coaching staff and the team one last time before breaking for the off-season.
“I talked to them about the fact that game 1 matters, game 2 matters, game 7 matters, game 15, 25, whatever… it matters,” he said. “That could have been the one game or two games or three games that would have given us the points that we needed to get in and get where we wanted to be.
“We need to continue to find a way to get better.”
Cheveldayoff stressed the term consistency and the desire to find it for next season, in order to become a team that will get above that playoff line. He said it all starts with being able to use four lines night in, and night out.
“When we could roll four lines, when we didn’t have to rely on the number-one line or the number-two line as much on a consistent basis, I think if you charted the games and the minutes, there’s probably a good correlation of us going on winning-streaks.
“It goes back to consistency,” he said. “You can’t get into the ruts. You can’t put yourself in the situation where you have to rely on going on a run. You have to find a way to say ‘I’m not going to lose two games in a row’. That has to be how you can get out of those inconsistent funks.”
So with that said, what does this team need and is there any one specific thing or area that they need to improve on in order to find that consistency?
“You can point fingers at a lot of different people and different things but at the end of the day, it’s the ultimate team game,” he said. “Can you get 10% better here and there? If we did that, then we’d be talking about our first round opponent right now.”
There are more than a few players who will become unrestricted and restricted free agents come July 5th, leaving Cheveldayoff with enough on his plate to keep him busy this summer- and then some. He told media that although the negotiations with the UFA’s and RFA’s have not begun quite yet, they are well aware of the work ahead.
“It’s a different summer in a lot of cases,” he reiterated. “It’s the first year in a long time when the salary cap at the NHL level is coming down. With respect to us, we have several RFA’s that are very much priorities in trying to get into fold. There are various terms and lengths so there is a lot of work to be done there.
“From a UFA standpoint, there’ll be decisions and discussions. There are options for some players that we want back and options for some players that want to explore things on their own.”
Chevy also discussed the possibility of looking for opportunities with players outside the Winnipeg organization, to see if there may be a fit somewhere.
“We think there’ll be some movement,” he explained. “There will be some opportunities there, but will they be the right ones that match what we’re offering or what they’re looking for? That’s the interesting part of the summer. I’ll spend a lot of time contacting my counterparts to see where they want to take their teams and what they have coming on the horizon.”
Young Guns- Scheifele & Trouba
Cheveldayoff also shared his thoughts on the 2011 and 2012 Jets draft picks: Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.
Trouba was invited to Team USA’s training camp at the World Championship tournament in Helsinki, Finland. Cheveldayoff will head to Finland in a couple of days to evaluate him amongst others throughout the event.
Meanwhile, Mark Scheifele finished 13th in OHL scoring with 39 goals, and 79 points in 45 games with the Barrie Colts. Scheifele and the Colts flew through the first two rounds of the OHL playoffs, sweeping the Kingston Frontenacs and the Oshawa Generals.
They moved on to play the Belleville Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals and were forced to play seven games, after Belleville battled back from a 3-1 series deficit. Scheifele contributed a pair of assists to help lift his team to an OHL Championship round, where they will face the London Knights, beginning on May 3rd.
“I had the opportunity to watch Scheifele play in the early series against Belleville,” said Chevy. “He’s having a great playoffs and certainly some good results there, but training camp will be a very interesting time for both of those players. The opportunity will be there for them to (in Scheifele’s case) turn pro now, and in Jacob’s case a first opportunity for him at training camp.”
Message to the fans
Cheveldayoff left Jets fans with the following closing remarks:
“You don’t know when the magic move is going to happen,” said the GM. “We appreciate your (Jets fans) passion, that’s what it’s all about. With respect to our fans, we care about them and know they are deeply invested in us. We know they pay hard earned money to watch us play and want to be entertained, and they want to win. There’s not a moment that goes by that I don’t think about that.
“There’s not a day that we don’t think about how we’re going to make this team better and what we are going to do different? Whenever there is an opportunity in front of us that we feel can help us, we’re going to do it. “